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The role of allied health assistants in supporting occupational therapy practice

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy Australia has published a position paper defining the roles, scope, and operational and professional responsibilities of Allied Health Assistants (AHAs) in the delivery of occupational therapy in hospital and the community. The paper will assist occupational therapists in understanding the clinical governance requirements in facilitating the AHA role within an occupational therapy service.

The position paper states that in an occupational therapy setting, an allied health assistant needs to have completed formal training to ensure an understanding and to have competencies based around the role. This would generally involve the completion of a Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance, with electives in occupational therapy.

The allied health assistant’s scope of practice is influenced by their education, knowledge and skills, level of experience, currency of practice, level of supervision received, and the type of services provided by the facility. The AHA may be involved in screening tasks, but does not undertake assessment. They basically encompass both support tasks and the components of care that have been delegated by the allied health professional. It is still the role of the occupational therapist to undertake the clinical decision making regarding patient care, including developing care plans.

The occupational therapist, as an allied health professional, has responsibility for supervising the AHA and maintaining a clear understanding their role, knowledge and skill level. OTs delegate tasks appropriately and provide support to the AHA in undertaking their role, including demonstrating how to perform specific tasks or providing opportunities to access training and professional development.

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