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Occupational Therapy

Children's Occupational Therapy Service

messy play

Our Vision is to be able to empower children, young people and families to be able to engage more purposefully in everyday tasks, at home, in school and in our local community.

Our Aim is to listen to our families, children and young people so that we are able and equipped to work in a holistic, child centred way.


Our Commitment to Diversity and Equality: We aim to have a service that is transparent for all our children, young people and families. A service that is rich in cultural diversity within our team, as well as a service that will strive to ensure that all children, young people and families of all backgrounds, faiths and abilities are supported to participate fully in their activities of daily living, and thrive in their local communities.


West Ham Lane Health Centre
84 West Ham Lane,
London E15 4PT


020 8586 6480

What we do?

An Introduction to Occupational Therapy Service for Children

Occupational Therapy (OT) can help babies, infants, children and young people grow, learn, have fun, socialise and play so they can develop, thrive and reach their full potential.

We see a range of children, including those with developmental delay, physical disabilities and children who have difficulties completing everyday tasks. We offer support to help children be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.

We work together with the child/young person, their parents/carers, and their school to meet goals which are set by the child, where possible, and their parents.

We can help with:

  • Development of Play skills
  • Activities of Daily Living: Dressing, School Activities, Personal Care Skills
  • Coordination and Fine Motor Skills
  • Upper Limb Splinting to Support Functional Activities
  • Postural Management (Static Seating for Home/School)
  • Transition from primary school to secondary school and into adult services

Following an initial assessment to identify needs, (which can include observations of play, gross motor and fine motor skills), an appropriate plan of action will follow (see section 'what can I expect at my OT appointment'). 

Investing in the Future

As a service we believe in investing in future generations of Occupational Therapists and therefore regularly provide student practice placement opportunities to affiliated universities.

We are proud to be one of the few paediatric Occupational Therapy services that have developed a unique Band 5 learning programme to newly qualified occupational therapists.

Children and their parents will always be asked permission before students can join a session.

Maria O'Malley:

My name is Maria O'Malley.  I am the OT Clinical Lead and have worked in Newham for 22 years.   Newham is a borough that I know well, living here and going to school here and deciding to stay here to invest in my career as an Occupational Therapist.  I am privileged to work with some amazing families whose lives at times are challenging, yet they continue to be the best advocates they can be for their children.

I remain committed to building this team of amazing occupational therapists from all over the world to ensure we deliver the best OT Service we can for the children and young people in Newham.   


Mairead Fergus

I am a Band 7 Occupational Therapist from Ireland.  I started working in Newham as a Band 6 Locum OT for a short term contract in September 2014.  I was lucky enough to interview and be successful for as permanent post 7 months later and I have been here ever since. 

Some of the things which keep me here in Newham enjoying my work and keeping me motivated are the amazing resilient families we work with, the extraordinary people I work with across all teams, and the support, learning and opportunities for growth and career development offered by management and the trust.  I am proud to say that I work in Newham and it has and always will have a special place in my heart.


Tasmeeah Khan

I am one of the Occupational Therapy Assistants. I've been working in Newham since October last year when I joined the team at West Ham Lane. I really enjoy working in Newham not just because I grew up in East London and it's so familiar to me, but also because of the different kinds of families I come across. Every time I go out for visits with families, I always feel welcomed. I also think the team I work with is such an experienced and amazing team and I really enjoy learning from them. 


Tin Oi Lui

I am Children's Occupational Therapist working in the Children's Services in Newham. I love working with children because they are unique and special in their own ways and I'd like to help them live their lives to their fullest potential. I have had experiences working with children with autism in different countries before working in Newham. I enjoy working with families and schools in Newham because of its cultural diversity and resilience in supporting their children with different ranges of needs. I treasure every learning opportunity from working closely and forming partnerships with families, schools, and other healthcare professionals, everyone wants the best for the children and is willing to adopt suggested strategies. I am proud to be part of one of the biggest children's OT team in London. Our team is fantastic, passionate and wanting to make a better change in the service we provide for families and schools.  


Melissa Homer  

I am a Band 7 OT and have worked in Newham for 7 years.  I love working with all the children and families  and each and every child teaches me something new everyday, it is a real  privilege to serve Newham and its community. I am passionate about play as an Occupation and supporting children to fill their potential.


Hannah Begg

I studied in Australia and moved to England in 2019 for an adventure, because I love meeting new people and seeing new places. I enjoy celebrating the wonderful strengths that children and families have, and helping them to succeed in the activities they care about in their day. It’s very important to me that children and families who need extra support, feel listened to and important. I particularly love working with children, to think of creative ways of improving things together. I have spent the last 6 years working with children, teenagers and adults across developmental support services, schools, mental health settings and hospitals, and always enjoy learning new things with the children and families I meet.


Angel (Mei Po) Shum

I am a new occupational therapist in the team. I came to London all the way from Hong Kong in 2017 to study something that I love - occupational therapy. I have been working as an OT in Newham in a different setting for the last 2 years. I am very excited and looking forward to working with different amazing children and families. I am grateful for all the learning opportunities that I got in this passionate and experienced team.


Naomi Nethersole:

I am a Band 5 Occupational Therapist - new to the team and new to Newham. I came to Newham looking for a new challenge and I am very excited about the opportunity to work with such a diverse and cultured population, while working alongside such a wonderful, highly-skilled team of therapists. I am passionate about providing high quality and personalised care and treatment to children and their families and utilising my skills and knowledge to support the families that need it most.


Nikita Bassi

I absolutely love working in Newham as I get to connect and support families from different cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life. My love and passion for being an Occupational Therapist has only grown further through my time working with the wonderful children and families here in Newham.  I started my career in Newham, and as a South Asian woman feel very connected to this borough. I am very passionate about wanting to help create shifts and changes in how occupational therapy meets the needs of children from all different backgrounds and cultures. I hope to be a positive role model to the children I work with, and to empower them to believe in their capabilities and amazing strengths. I'm very lucky to work with families and children whom leave me smiling after every session! 

Kathleen Headley

I have worked in Newham for over 18 years. Initially with Newham Health Visiting Service and now with the Children’s Occupational Therapy Team.  I have always worked with children and their families in various settings and I am passionate about supporting children to thrive and develop their skills to their full potential. I understand and respect many of the challenges parents face when they are having to juggle constantly changing priorities, as well as the individual needs of their child/ren. Working in partnership with parents to achieve their child’s goals is something I am equally passionate about. 

I find my job both rewarding and humbling as I have been able to support many children on their Occupational Therapy journey, but I have also learnt so much from the families I have worked with.   


Beth Hipwell

As an OT, I spend lots of time playing, exploring and problem solving with children and young people to help them achieve their goals. I love being creative at work and I use toys, imaginative play, crafts and other tools to make therapy fun. As part of my OT role, I also provide specialist services including upper limb splinting clinics and early intervention for babies and infants. Outside of work, I love playing and performing music and sometimes I use songs and instruments in my OT sessions to help children develop their upper limb skills and play skills. 


Louis Purpura

I am an Occupational Therapist from the Philippines. I have been working in Newham since May 2021 and made one of the best decisions to move and work in a people – focused Trust.  It is great to work with people coming from different cultural backgrounds and vast professional experiences to deliver our helping hand to the service users.   It is a positive learning opportunity to work with the children, families and community links in this borough as it continuously drives the passion to be brilliantly practical and resourceful in unleashing the optimal potential of our service users.  


Bethany Mann

I feel privileged to be working among such a diverse and highly skilled team of therapists. I love working together with people and understanding each individual need which helps me to journey alongside and support children and families to achieve their full potential. Being an OT means I get to build relationships through play and problem solving, celebrating each child’s unique set of characteristics and skills and use these to support with challenges they may have in activities that are important to them. I love the diversity of this borough and I look forward to journeying with and learning something new from every family I meet.

Who Can Refer 

Referrals are accepted from education, health and social care professionals using the SCYPS referral form and must provide sufficient information to meet the referral criteria. 

Parents/carers/young people can self-refer if they have previously been known to the service – using the same referral form.

How to Refer

Please download and complete the SCYPS Child Development Service and Therapies Referral Form

Please return the completed referral form and any relevant reports to:

Intake Team
West Ham Lane Health Centre
84 West Ham Lane
E15 4PT

Completed referral forms can also be emailed to 

Inclusion Criteria:
  • Aged 0 –18 years
  • Is registered with a Newham GP.
  • The child/Young Person is experiencing significant functional difficulties which limit their participation and engagement in everyday tasks in line with their cognitive age that would benefit from Occupational Therapy advice and input (ie: self-care, getting dressed, school activities, play activities).
Exclusion Criteria:
  • Handwriting: Referrals made from schools for children with difficulties only with handwriting/scissor skills will be advised to access the MDT Education Resource Pack to provide support and ideas in these areas.
  • Toileting: For children who are under 3 years, referrals will be signposted to their specialist heath visitor and the Health Visiting Team Service, and or children’s centres where they can access general advice in this area all of which can be found on the London Borough of Newham Local Offer (Please follow this link to view the London Borough of Newham Local Offer).
  • Sensory Preferences: Sensory preferences that are not impacting the child’s ability to carry out daily tasks (e.g. does not like loud noises but is able to cope in environments with minimal help) and repetitive and stereotypical behaviours (e.g. hand flapping, spinning, etc.)
  • Behavioural feeding in isolation: We currently are not commissioned to provide a service for children with isolated sensory, aversive and/or behavioural feeding difficulties.  For basic tips and pointers look out for our Fun with Food Video Series within our Resources section, which can help to give you some basic pointers that are simple and easy to try. {NOTE: We are working with our commissioners and SLT partners to get a service back up and running again by the end of the year]   
  • Emotional Behavioural Management: If the referral is from school, the school will be signposted to the Behavioural Support Services.  If the child has autism, advice can be sought from the Language Communication & Interaction Service (LCIS) who have specialist advisory teachers who specialise in autism. For families who require support around setting boundaries in the home families should contact/sign up for the Triple P Parenting Programme. Triple P is a parenting programme.  It's a toolbox of ideas specifically for families.

If your referral meets the service criteria and is accepted, your child will be placed on our waiting list (parents and referrer will receive an acknowledgement letter that the referral has been accepted). 

Your child will be seen depending on their level of need, their condition (ie: if this is a degenerative/palliative condition), if there is an urgent safeguarding need, as well as the level of OT input that your child has received in the past from our service. 

How we will contact you

Our Pathway Care Coordinator will send you a letter outlining your appointment with us. The appointment's name, place, time, and the name of the OT you will be seeing are all specified in the letter.

We have a number of settings where you may be seen so make sure you check the location. Your child may be seen at West Ham Lane Health CentreAppleby Health Centre or Joyce Campbell Clinic. There may be times where it is more appropriate that we see your child at school or at nursery. 

What if I need an Interpreter? 

It is usually already on our system if you require an interpreter and this will be provided for you. If at the first appointment you feel an interpreter is no longer required, please let your OT know and they can cancel the interpreter.   

Please let your OT know if you are also not comfortable with the interpreter as it may be possible to change this. 

    What should my child wear to their OT appointments?

    We ask that children come to the sessions appropriately dressed in comfortable clothing. Many of our sessions will involve movement and/or messy play. 

    What will the OT do during the appointment? 

    We understand that we don't know you or your child, so the goal of the first session will be to get to know you both. The OT will observe your child playing and observe what activities prefer doing.

    Your child will play alongside the OT as a role model for specific play activities.

    The OT is evaluating your child as they go about their daily lives. They may ask your child to draw, cut, jump, hop, tie their shoes, as well as other activities to help them identify what they can do well and what they need a little more assistance with.

    For older children, we aim to include them as much as we can during the appointments. We like to hear from them to find out how they are managing at home and at school and what help they might need.

    What will happen next? 

    After your initial appointment, the OT will have gathered more information about how your child is managing with everyday tasks. They will also have found out what the priorities are from either you as the parent/caregiver or the young person themselves. These goals will help shape any future appointments that may be offered. If appropriate, the OT may contact your child's school to discuss how things are going and if they have any concerns.   

    There are some occasions when, after meeting you and your child, that everything is going well and you feel that OT at this time is not necessary, this can be discussed with your therapist so that a plan for the future can be put in place.  

    Once my child's case is closed, does that mean I will not be able to be seen again?  

    Re-referrals are considered mainly for new areas of concerns. For continued difficulties in the same areas, families and schools are advised, in the first instance, to refer to the last OT report and recommendations that were provided. Families/schools need to be able to demonstrate they have worked on the previous advice and recommendations given before a new referral can be considered.


    Journey Through Different Pathways

    There are many ways that we see children and young people in Newham. Explore with us our different pathways and what they mean for those families who live in Newham.

    Compliments or Complaints

    We are committed to improve our user experience and really would like to hear from you if you have any comments on suggestions you would like to share with us. 

    If you would like to provide feedback in relation to your experience with our service, or an individual Occupational Therapist, you can do so by completing this short survey

    If you would like to make a complaint about the service, you can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS):


    Phone: 0800 0131 223


    What parents and carers are saying - Feedback from December 2022

    The OT has given loads of input.

    The OT was brilliant as she is compassionate, understanding and emotional supportive to work on practical things.

    The OT helped understand and solidify concerns she was already having which felt nice and reassuring.

    Sean the OT showed my child how to use a knife and fork properly this is such an improvement.
    OT explained everything that was happening in the session, and the process of the assessment, pointing specific things out to help see what he is doing right/wrong and struggling to do. OT asked loads of questions and listened to our concerns.
    I have received a lot of valuable feedback and information to support my child
    I understand everything with why he has to sit in the chair and how it is adjusted.
    Played with my child to calm him down when nervous, lovely attitude
    They were great.  They played with my daughter and also described what things I should focus overall, everyone is fantastic. 



    General Information

    Newham Specific Information

    • Covid19 Parent Information Leaflet
    • Newham Local Offer Provides information about all services available for children with special educational needs in Newham.
    • Triple P Free parenting programmes, workshops and classes designed to meet the needs of residents in Newham, including a specific workshop (stepping stones) for parents of children with additional needs.
    • Enabled Living Healthcare The service that provides community equipment and wheelchairs for those in Newham.
    • The Newham Ability Camp A multi-sports club run by Paul Archer and specialist coaches, which aims to give children and young adults with disabilities their first steps into sport.

    Here you will find a range of videos, top tips, handouts covering an extensive range of topics and information. 

    We we working hard to update our new website.  Please be patient with us as we will be uploading more resources over the coming days.



    Play skills



    Independence skills



    Sensory Activities

    How Many Appointments will my child receive? 

    In the majority of cases (excluding upper limb splinting and postural seating), we work in episodes of care. This means that children who meet our service criteria (see above), and who are seen on our individual pathway, will be offered individual therapy sessions (a maximum of 4 sessions will be offered).  Therapy sessions can take place in either one of our clinics, nursery/school or at home.  For some pathways it may be more appropriate to offer a Coaching Style model of intervention, working more closely with parents and caregivers. 

    Following your OT intervention, the episode of care will be closed and advice/strategies will be provided for the family/carers and school to follow and embed in their everyday tasks to ensure that progress is made.

    Advice and Therapy: We have a range of ways that we offer advice and therapy input – this could include any of the following: 

    • Workshops
    • Problem solving sessions
    • Individual therapy sessions
    • Group therapy sessions
    • Parent groups
    • Extensive video resource library as well as resources for your child’s school
    How long do I have to wait for my child to be seen?   

    We are currently working very hard to reduce waiting times.  Our current waiting times are approximately 7 months.

    What happens if I cannot attend one of my appointments? 

    We appreciate there will be times when families are unable to attend due to sickness, other appointments or family circumstances. Where possible we ask for families to call the office, giving 24 hrs notice to cancel or change an appointment, this is so that we can offer that slot to another family waiting to be seen. 

    My child needs equipment or adaptations at home

    Some children will need to have equipment (e.g, bath equipment) or adaptations (e.g. a ramp or hoist) fitted in their home to help them complete their everyday activities. For an assessment of your home environment, you will need to contact Social Services Occupational Therapy Team.

    Their address is:
    Newham Dockside
    1000 Dockside Road
    E16 2QU

    They can be contacted by telephone on: 020 8430 2000 (Please Select Option 2)
    You can visit their website or you can request an assessment using their online form
    Or you can e-mail them 


    I have a problem with my child's Wheelchair & Buggy, who do I contact?

    For all queries relating to wheelchairs and buggies you will need to contact our partners at Enabled Living Wheelchair & Specialist Seating.

    200 Chargeable Lane
    E13 8DW

    They can be contacted by telephone on: 020 3373 1354

    You can email them at: 

    You can visit their website 

    We are committed to continued learning within the team, ensuring that we are up to date with new ideas and trends in the world of occupational therapy.     

    Currently our training programme consists of:

    • Journal Discussions
    • Case Study Discussions
    • Clinical Skills Updates and Training
    • Feedback to all from external training
    • Essential Mandatory training
    • Service Planning Away Days
    • MDT Teaching Sessions with the SYCPS team
    • Updates on new NHS England Guidelines



    You Said... We Did....

    School Have Said...

    We would like additional Sensory Training for Resource Schools 

    We would love OTs to be more visible in schools

    To update the Education Resource Pack

    We would like more help with setting up groups in school

    We have :

    Made a more specific training menu starting October 2022. 

    January 2023 we will be launching our new school model of working in

    hubs to be more visable in schools. 

    Additional pages have been added to the Education Pack



    Parents have said....

    Reports are too long and wordy. 

    The OT Website was outdated and not current.

    We would like more early intervention around parent support for

    our children with autism. 

    We have :

    Changed our reports to make them more concise.

    Updated the website, this is now updated monthly.   

    There are many new developments in the team, information will be

    displayed as it is launched.

    We are currently working with some families to look at a new

    model for early support for children with autism.  




    Therapies and CDS Referral Form