“Like being a MacGyver”: CALHN’s Wheelchair and Seating Service

Wheelchairs are transformative in helping people stay mobile – but sometimes a little personalisation is required to make sure they’re just right.

Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) operates South Australia’s only specialist government seating service for individuals requiring tailored equipment and solutions to support their posture.

Deanna is Senior Clinical Occupational Therapist at CALHN’s Wheelchair and Seating Service.

“We are a team of dedicated clinicians and technicians who specialise in seating systems for manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs and mobile shower chairs,” said Deanna.


“We work collaboratively with clients, families, support workers and therapists to provide our services.”

CALHN’s Wheelchair and Seating Service offerings include:

  • postural assessments
  • assessment and prescription of equipment and seating systems
  • modification and manufacture of seating systems
  • pressure mapping
  • 3D scanning and foam routing for seating systems, and
  • repairs and maintenance.

“We’re like a one-stop shop that can address most seating and mobility issues,” said Deanna.

Problem-solving to support independence

Based at the Repat Health Precinct in Daw Park, CALHN’s Wheelchair and Seating Service receives referrals which can be direct from the person themselves or any healthcare provider working with them.

“Following a referral, we contact the person to schedule an appointment at our service site,” said Deanna.


“The first appointment is used to reach an agreed solution – we discuss the person’s needs and goals, and complete a postural assessment.”


“Then we proceed with a service agreement and other documentation to move forwards to delivery.”

Deanna said she enjoys being able to meet and collaborate with different individuals who require customised solutions.

“I find it very satisfying to problem-solve and create a product that impacts people on a daily basis, and improves their independence and function,” said Deanna.


“It’s like being a MacGyver in terms of thinking outside of the box and coming up with unique solutions.”

MacGyver is a fictional TV character who applies a “brains before brawn” approach for problem solving.


Body-matched foam support

Deanna recalls one client from the country who required seating for a new powered wheelchair.

“This client presented with a very complex posture – his body and spine were so rotated he was unable to be supported in a conventional seating system,” Deanna said.


“We were able to shape-capture his body, and then replicate the support he needed via specialised foam cutting.”

The tailored foam structure allowed the client to be supported in an upright position for preservation of breathing and swallowing.

“We placed the custom seating on a powered wheelchair base, and the client was able to continue his weekly activities and be part of his local community,” said Deanna.


How to contact the service

CALHN’s Wheelchair and Seating Service commenced in 2018, and currently has around 300 clients.

It is a Registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Provider and available to participants of NDIS, Lifetime Support Authority (LSA), Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), Department Human Services (DHS) Equipment Program, and to private and compensable individuals.

The Service also has close links with community agencies and non-government organisations that support clients, and works with CALHN’s Spinal Outreach Rehabilitation Team who can monitor clients after inpatient stays in the Spinal Injuries Unit.

CALHN’s Wheelchair and Seating Service can be contacted via: