Therapy services



Our Therapy Service comprises a Child Development Service, Social Work Service, Physiotherapy Service, Occupational Therapy Service, Dietitics Service and Speech Language Therapy Service. A young white woman with dark brown hair in a tank top massages the top of her shoulder

Child Development Service

Our Child Development Service is a therapy-based service providing assessment and therapy services to babies, children and adolescents (birth to 16 years) with developmental or ongoing disability needs.

Referrals come from many sources including paediatricians, GPs and other professionals such as Plunket and iwi providers involved with a child’s healthcare.

Who makes up the WDHB’s Child Development Service team?
Our team is comprised of Allied Health professionals working using a multi-disciplinary approach. Children referred may be seen by only one team member or by several, depending on the identified needs.

The WDHB’s Child Development Services team includes:

Visiting Neuro-developmental Therapists

Neuro-developmental therapists are registered occupational therapists or physiotherapists who focus on the assessment of a baby’s muscles and movements and how this impacts on the baby’s achievement of developmental skills. Our therapists are able to provide caregivers with the skills to encourage normal development and provide therapy recommendations to promote learning, skills and independence in tasks used on a daily basis. Neuro-developmental therapists visit patients at home and develop a home programme for parents or caregivers to follow and they also help to maximise everyday opportunities for learning.

Speech Language Therapist
WDHB Speech Language Therapists address children’s feeding/swallowing issues. If your child is referred to the speech language therapists with concerns regarding feeding and/or swallowing, the primary aim of intervention will be to ensure your child receives adequate nutrition safely. WDHB Child Therapy Service speech language therapists focus on feeding/swallowing issues with the Ministry of Education catering for speech and language problems. Click here for information about Speech Language therapy for adults with communication disorders

Our psychologist work with and support children, their families and staff to develop and implement strategies to manage behavioural concerns and the impact of physical disability. They undertake assessments which help to develop therapy and strategy plans. They work closely with the whole child development service team by sharing interventions.

Occupational Therapist
Our occupational therapists provide assessment and therapy for children aged 2 to 16 years old who are experiencing difficulties in activities of their daily life (self care, play, productivity). Concerns often addressed by our occupational therapists include sensory, motor, perceptual and social skills. Intervention programmes which encompass a holistic approach, can be in the form of therapy, consultation/education or the provision of necessary equipment.

Our physiotherapists provide physical skill assessments for children aged 2 to 16 years old. Follow up therapy is dependent on the needs identified from the assessment. Our physiotherapists also provide therapy programmes for children who have undergone surgery which impacts upon their mobility.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Coordinator
Our autism spectrum disorder coordinator helps with the assessment process for all autism spectrum disorder referrals. Our coordinator does this by gathering additional relevant information required for the purposes of the assessment. Our coordinator also provides support information to families as well as linking them to relevant community resources for services prior and after diagnosis.

Referral information
A child can be referred to the Child Development Service by a range of health professionals, including paediatricians, GPs and other professionals such as Plunket and iwi providers, involved in the child’s healthcare.

Speech Language Therapy Services

What is Speech and Language Therapy?
Speech and Language Therapy involves the diagnosis, treatment, and management of speech, language, and swallowing problems. Our speech language therapists are qualified health professionals who work with adults who have communication disorders and/or difficulty feeding or swallowing food and/or drink. Communication disorders can involve impairments of one or more communication modalities including speech, writing, reading, signs, symbols and gestures.

Our speech language therapists provide:


  • assessment and identification of problems
  • direct therapy and development of treatment goals
  • information, advice and support to clients, carers, family and whanau
  • multi-disciplinary casework management with other clinical staff
  • liaison with community organisations.

Paediatric patients (in hospital and the community) are seen for swallowing and feeding difficulties.

Referral information
If required, a referral to the Speech Language Therapy team will be made by the health professional working with you or your child. If you or your family/whanau are concerned about communication or swallowing problems, please speak to your doctor, specialist or about getting a referral.

Occupational Therapy Services


Phone | 06 348 1286 Fax | 06 348 1285

Our occupational therapists and assistants work with people of all ages who are experiencing practical problems associated with living with physical and/or mental illness, injury or disability.

The WDHB's Occupational Therapy Service provides services to adult inpatients with arthritis, stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, as well as patients who have recently had orthopaedic or other surgical procedures. This also includes service delivery in the Emergency Department and Children's Ward, as required.

Community-based occupational therapists provide occupational performance assessments in client’s homes. Intervention can include teaching new ways to carry out daily living activities, housing alterations, adaptive equipment and education about living with a chronic illness. Clients are accepted to the service if they are over 18 years of age, have a disability lasting for a minimum of six months, or ACC acceptance for the first six weeks only. We assess seating with input from the wheelchair and seating clinician from the Enable NZ Outreach Service.

Referral information
A referral to see an occupational therapist is required from another health professional involved in the person’s care e.g. doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist, social worker, speech-language therapist, etc.

Clinical Dietician Services

For more information please contact Whanganui Regional Health Network on 06 348 0109

Clinical dieticians are the food and nutrition health professionals who work to improve the nutritional health of individuals and communities through targeted programmes and interventions. We provide services to patients who require assessment, nutrition intervention and education within the WDHB area. Service areas include inpatient wards, outpatients and community.

Referral information
Referrals to access this service are made by a GP or by staff working on the ward. If you require an appointment with the dietician, please ask your GP to write a referral to the service. Referrals are triaged based on priority/urgency of patient need and booked with a specialist clinic, or the Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation (WRPHO).

Healthy Eating Group classes targeting diabetes, weight reduction and healthy eating for the heart have been developed for patients and whanau to attend at no charge.

For more information, please contact the
WRHN on 06 348 0109.

Social Work

Phone 06 348 1234 extn 7282 | Fax 06 348 1285
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am - 4.30pm

Our social workers are a part of the multi-disciplinary team at Whanganui Hospital, working with inpatient clients, and people living in their homes, to provide a professional, timely, confidential service.

Services offered include:

  • emotional support and counselling (for clients, family, carers) and working together to clarify issues and develop coping strategies
  • advocacy – assisting people to participate fully in healthcare decisions which directly impact on their care
  • social impact assessments to identify issues such as grief, lifestyle changes due to physical health change
  • assessment of child safety
  • crisis and trauma intervention
  • support during long-term illness, repeat admission, palliative care
  • pregnancy counselling - all options explored
  • information on community resources, care entitlements
  • liaison with/referrals to community agencies, other health providers
  • co-ordination pre-admission, discharge planning, as required
  • assistance with transfer arrangements to other hospitals.

Referral Information
Referrals to the WDHB’s Social Work Service are required from general practitioners and/or hospital staff.
Social Work services are on the ground floor of Whanganui Hospital’s Lambie Building.