Navigating your way through the many healthcare terms and classifications can be overwhelming at first. Between doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, therapy assistants, occupational therapists and the many other healthcare workers, it can be hard to get to grips with who does what, and what roles are relevant to your needs.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the role of the therapy assistant, and how it differs from other disability support services.
What Sets Therapy Assistants And Allied Health Professionals Apart?
NDIS Allied Health Professional
NDIS Allied health professionals deliver therapeutic supports to NDIS participants, and are considered one of the largest groups of registered providers. Allied health professionals have received qualifications in their relevant fields. They include physiotherapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and nurses, who are highly trained in their disciplines. They are generally university educated, and are responsible for assessing and diagnosing patients, and then treating them according to their individualised treatment plan.
Allied health therapists must be registered to practice, either through the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA), or another professional regulatory agency (such as Speech Pathology Australia). To remain registered and to be allowed to practice in their profession, allied health professionals must only operate within their scope of practice, spend a minimum number of hours each year keeping up to date with research to further their clinical knowledge, and must hold professional indemnity and public liability insurance while practicing.
Therapy Assistants may or may not be university students who are persuing their allied health degrees, for example in Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy. They are on track to receive professional qualifications in these areas so they can go on to work as allied health professionals.
Therapy assistants cover a wide range of roles that revolve around supporting a person with their daily care and/or activity programs. There is no clearly defined list of the specific roles, responsibilities of a therapy assistant, as they vary according to the client’s needs. Instead, therapy assistants provide a mix of specific and generalised care and support to people with disability. They work directly under the supervision of allied health professionals in order to deliver the best care plan for the client.
How Allied Health Professionals And Allied Health Assistants Work Together
While they may be separate roles, they do work closely together to create the best possible outcomes for every client.
Only a qualified allied health professional can conduct an assessment of a client’s needs, identify and potentially diagnose movement difficulties, make treatment recommendations, design and develop treatment programs, and deliver specialised treatment or therapeutic interventions. However, therapy assistants play a key role in delivering the services and treatment plans set out by allied health professionals.
While some treatments and services are beyond the scope of a therapy assistant’s training, much of it can be carried out by the therapy assistant under the supervision of the health professional.
What Activities Can A Therapy Assistant Do?
The types of activities a therapy assistant can undertake will vary, and will depend on a variety of factors, including:
The client’s and family’s needs.
The nature of the therapy activities and the knowledge and skill level required.
The relationship that exists between the therapy assistant and the allied health professional.
The level of training and supervision able to be provided to the therapy assistant by the allied health professional.
Ultimately, the allied health professional is legally responsible for the safe and effective delivery of the therapy program to the client (for example, a physiotherapist is responsible for the delivery of all NDIS physiotherapy services for a client). It’s also up to the allied health professional to determine if a therapy assistant can safely and effectively carry out each activity within the program for each client.
Why It Can Be Useful To Have A Therapy Assistant Helping With A Therapy Program
Therapy assistants are more affordable to employ. This means by having a therapy assistant complete a home program with a client, NDIS funds can be freed up to do more therapeutic activities.
Therapy assistants can take the load off carers and family. Carers of people with disability already have a lot on their plate, so by engaging a therapy assistant to do a client’s home program with them, you might be able to free up some of your own time for work, household tasks and daily activities.
A client may respond better to and work better with a therapy assistant rather than a carer or family member. Some client’s have higher and more specific support needs than a daily carer or family member may be able to confidently carry out. In such cases, a therapy assistant will be preferable over a carer.
If you or a loved one is in need of NDIS therapy support or allied health services, then get in touch with St Jude’s Health Care Services. By engaging a St Jude’s therapy assistant, you’re guaranteed to get the best possible care with your NDIS funded support plan. Get in touch with us for more information on our NDIS allied health and therapy assistance services.