Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy helps children to participate and engage in everyday activities and occupations despite injury, illness or health conditions. Engagement and participation in everyday occupations is important to support the growth, development and general health and well-being of your child.

A child’s occupations include all the things that they want and need to do in their life that are appropriate for their stage of development. Children carry out these occupations in a range of different environments and ways. Common examples include: playing, feeding or eating, participating in school, or attending to self-care and hygiene activities such as getting dressed. A child’s occupations also include fulfilling ‘occupational roles’ such as being a daughter/son, sibling, student, friend etc. In hospital there can be some additional occupations which your child may need to perform such as coping with being a patient and having medical procedures.

Occupational therapy focuses on:

  • Optimising your child’s best performance in the hospital, home or community environment. This includes participation in every day self-care activities (bathing, toileting, eating, dressing, etc.), productivity activities such as learning, going to school, having medical procedures and promoting developmental experiences through access to meaningful play or leisure activities.
  • Providing targeted occupational therapy interventions and specific health education to support your child’s current and future ability to do every day activities including: splinting, scar management, oedema management, non-pharmacological pain management, garment prescription, upper limb intervention.
  • Helping your child adjust to their illness/condition, hospital admission and coping with necessary medical procedures and intervention regimes (e.g. development of procedural support plans, support for taking medication, etc.)
  • Equipment or assistive device prescription/recommendations in hospital and after discharge including assessment and recommendations for safe travel options home. We also provide referrals to other agencies and services as required.
  • Targeted health related education for children and their families/care-givers to promote short and long-term health outcomes.
  • Optimising family/care-giver efficacy – supporting the child and family’s understanding, involvement and confidence in managing their health care needs now and into the future.

Some of the ways Occupational Therapy helps children is by:

  • Enabling children who have had a traumatic injury (burns, muscle flap, tendon injury etc) to engage in aspects of their normal activities and occupations, and providing targeted rehabilitation and education to prevent further need for surgery or hospital admissions.
  • Supporting the future health and developmental outcomes of babies by ensuring they have access to developmentally appropriate experiences while in hospital or accessing community health services. These experiences positively shape brain development through early intervention.
  • Supporting children undergoing cancer treatment to manage anxiety associated with having regular invasive medical procedures. This may involve working with children and families to develop procedural plans to ensure that their initial experiences with procedures such as getting needles and taking medication are as positive as possible. This helps to prevent or minimise the risk of ongoing or escalating anxiety associated with future procedures or interventions and ensures healthier emotional development, reduced stress for the family and more efficient treatment by medical teams.
  • Working with families to assess as early as possible in a child’s admission what their home/school or care environment is like and plan for possible changes or equipment required so they are safe to go home.


We also run clinics across a number of Children’s Health Queensland hospital and community based locations.

Who can access this service?

New patients

Referrals from staff within Children’s Health Queensland are accepted up to a child’s 16th birthday.

Existing patients with complex care needs

Referrals from staff within Children’s Health Queensland are accepted up to a child’s 18th birthday (patients are usually transitioned to adult services by this time).

Catchment area

Specialist occupational therapy services are available to children living in Queensland.

Do I need a referral?

You will need a formal referral to access this service.

How do I get a referral?

Referrals to the Occupational Therapy service at the Queensland Children’s Hospital can only be made by medical practitioners who work for Children’s Health Queensland.

Other referral information

All referrals will be prioritised based on urgency of health response required in addition to whether service can be offered by another service provider.

Once your referral is accepted a clinician or administration officer will be in contact with you to provide details about where and when to attend your appointment.

Information for health professionals

The Queensland Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapy Service provides specialist level therapy services to the diverse paediatric population who will be accessing services across Children’s Health Queensland’s continuum of care. All occupational therapists work within the context of the wider inter-professional team.

We aim to optimise an infant or child’s participation and engagement in everyday activities and occupations despite their injury, illness or condition. Occupational therapy also aims to minimise future limitations associated with each child’s health condition(s). Engagement and participation in everyday occupations is important to support growth, development and general health and well-being.

Referral instructions

The Occupational Therapy service accepts internal referrals from the treating Children’s Health Queensland clinical team.

Referrals from health professionals who work outside of Children’s Health Queensland will not be accepted.

The Occupational Therapy department has local work unit guidelines which outline the processes for the management of referrals within departments/service areas, including eligibility and categorisation guidelines. Each occupational therapy team across the service will manage referrals in accordance with evidence based clinical criteria and indicators for intervention. Service provision priorities are determined in alignment with the Clinical Services Capability Framework version 3.0 and current availability of resources.

Our team


Penny Power

This service is available at

Allied Health (6a)
Queensland Children’s Hospital

Level 6
501 Stanley Street
South Brisbane
QLD 4101
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Contact details

t: 07 3068 1111  (hospital switchboard)

Operating hours

Monday to Friday, 8am–4.30pm.

Related services

Child Development Program
Deadly Ears Program