Key messages

  • Here are the answers to common questions for people implementing the Victorian Assistant Workforce Model

Project initiation

What human resources do we need to implement the VAWM our organisation?

A sponsor on the executive team can provide ongoing senior leadership, support and endorsement of the implementation project.

You will also need a project team that is available for high levels of staff engagement.

They will implement the project and to adapt the resources for your organisation. You should also consider assigning a project manager and/or project officer.

Project champions are a valuable resource to support the momentum of the VAWM and encourage staff engagement in the project.

How long does it take to implement the VAWM?

This will depend on the scope of the project. The VAWM provides a nine-month guide, which is based on the AHA implementation program. The timeframes could range from three months to one year.

How much time away from clinical tasks will AHAs and AHPs need to spend? 

All AHPs and AHAs will need to complete a brief online workforce survey (approximately 20 minutes); attend a staff forum (60 minutes); participate in a focus group (60 minutes) and complete the quantification survey (60 minutes spread over a five-day period).

We have a large cohort of nurses who are employed in a generic role in a case management team. Can nurses participate in the implementation of the VAWM?

The VAWM methodology is developed for use by AHPs, to scope and quantify the opportunity for AHAs within existing allied health services.

If case management roles are currently held by nurses, these staff can be included in the workforce survey, so that you can capture an accurate reflection of the current staffing profile.

However, the roles are not included in the quantification survey, which identifies and quantifies the tasks that can be delegated to an AHA workforce.

If case management roles are currently held by AHPs, these roles can be included in the quantification survey.

Staff engagement

Why are you increasing AHAs to address future demand? Why are we not increasing AHPs?

Understanding the role and scope of the AHA workforce and recruiting to meet this need will allow AHPs to focus on their full scope of practice. 

In some organisations, this will allow for the development of advanced scope of practice.

It’s quicker to do the work than to delegate to AHAs.

The supervision and delegation framework for allied health assistants supports the development of effective delegation to AHAs.

Using an effective framework streamlines delegation and makes it less burdensome on AHPs.

The VAWM provides a platform for understanding the assistant workforce and addressing gaps in the governance and supports required for effective and safe practice.

The AHAs within the organisation don’t have the skills/experience/training to perform these delegated tasks.

AHAs must work within their scope of practice. Implementing the VAWM allows us to identify gaps between the skills and knowledge required to perform a task and current AHA skills.

This information will contribute to the AHA workforce strategic plan, to ensure the assistant workforce is efficient and meets the needs of the service into the future.

As an AHP, I am responsible for the program. How can I delegate to an AHA when I cannot see or watch what they are doing with my patient/client?

It is important that an AHP who delegates tasks to an AHA is able to monitor and supervise the AHA according to their skill level and supervision requirements.

The Supervision and delegation framework for allied health assistants provides a framework supporting effective supervision and decision making regarding the competence of an AHP in providing this supervision.

How should I respond in focus groups if barriers, limitations or misconceptions are raised by participants about AHAs?

It’s useful to respond to these questions by discussing and exploring the issues raised.

After responding to and addressing the issues, you can examine the tasks that could be delegated to an AHA.

A strategy for addressing questions effectively is outlined below:

Participant: ‘I don’t think I can safely delegate a task to an AHA because I don’t know their scope of practice.’

Response: ‘Have you assessed, talked to, or read a document outlining their scope of practice?’

Participant: ‘No.’

Response: ‘That may be a good starting point to work out what is appropriate. You could ask your manager to view the organisation’s documents related to this.’

Direct the participant to the Supervision and delegation framework for allied health assistants and suggest discussions with their manager to further understand the scope of practice of a particular AHA or AHA.

I don’t understand my AHAs scope. How do I find out more?

The organisation may have guidelines outlining the AHA scope of practice. Additionally, the Supervision and delegation framework for allied health assistants contains relevant information.

I don’t have time to teach or up-skill an AHA in our local organisational competencies/training.

The discipline or program manager may provide guidance and support for AHPs who are required to train AHAs.

This initial training takes time, however the investment into AHAs now will increase the productivity for the discipline or program in the long term. This will lead to less stress on your workload.

Data collection

When should the workforce survey be distributed?

Complete the workforce survey before the start of the focus groups.

This allows the survey to capture the attitude and opinions of AHPs and AHAs in relation to satisfaction and confidence in the existing AHA workforce before the VAWM implementation.

AHPs will be on leave during the quantification survey week. Should I reschedule, or can the absent AHPs complete the survey at another time?

Consider the effect that the number of absentees will have on the overall results.

If the number of AHPs on leave is significant, consider rescheduling the survey.

It is unlikely that you will achieve a 100 per cent return rate for a variety of reasons. Consider what percentage is acceptable for your organisation’s results.

You should not ask AHPs to complete the survey at different times.

I am concerned that the baseline workforce staffing profile has changed since I collected the data. Can I collect it again at the same time as administering the quantification survey?

The baseline workforce staffing profile is a point-in-time data collection activity.

Workforce profiles continually fluctuate in response to staff vacancies, recruitment, and leave.

The baseline workforce staffing profile is a snapshot only. It only needs to be collected once and doesn’t require continual updating.

Our service operates seven days a week. As a result, I created a data sheet with columns for Monday to Sunday, rather than just Monday to Friday. Is this OK?

Yes. We recommend a five-day collection period, but you can define the collection period so that it is relevant to the service.

Label the days of the week on the data collection sheet according to your need.

How should AHPs record their time on the quantification survey if they work in a split role across two teams?

An AHP working in a split role can record their time for their main role, or they can complete two quantification surveys and clearly label their team and hours worked for that week.

Where do the AHA tasks included on the quantification survey come from?

The AHA task list is a resource provided for Element 2.

This can be used to identify tasks applicable to the services within the scope of VAWM implementation.

The focus groups provide an opportunity for AHPs and AHAs to identify other tasks relevant to the organisation.

All AHA tasks to be included on the quantification survey must be ratified by a before their inclusion.

AHPs filling out the quantification survey have added new AHA tasks in the 'other' section. What should I do?

If this occurs, all new tasks identified must be ratified by a manager before being included in your VAWM results.

Our service/program does not work with complex cases. Do I need to include this in the quantification survey?

The data collection is structured so that you must collect data within the categories of practice, but you do not need to use all ten categories if they are not relevant to your service.

Data analysis

In regard to the database – are the calculations for the percentage of FTE based on the figures entered from the quantification survey forms, or based on the FTE reported in the baseline workforce staffing profile?

The percentage of current budgeted FTE is calculated using both the quantification survey and baseline workforce staffing profile data.

The percentage is calculated thus:

FTE quantified (from quantification survey), divided by current budgeted FTE (from baseline workforce staffing profile), multiplied by 100

Please refer to the VAWM database instructions for further guidance.

What is the allied health staffing factor?

This is a number applied to the quantification data to enable the time AHPs are currently spending on AHA tasks (identified in the quantification survey) to be converted into FTE.

The quantification survey quantifies time spent on patient attributable tasks, but other components of a position (such as leave, and indirect time) must be considered when budgeting FTE.

The factor allows for this additional time. Refer to the download for data analysis guide.

Strategic planning

What will happen to the AHPs’ statistics if they delegate their tasks to an AHA?

The intention is for AHPs to take on more complex cases or more advanced roles, or to increase the service provided (unmet demand). Therefore, AHPs should still be able to record similar patient/client statistics.

What happens if stakeholders set strategic goals that are not consistent with findings of the data analysis?

Strategic goals need to be endorsed by executive and key stakeholders to ensure ongoing workforce reform.

It is useful to present the findings from the data analysis to inform stakeholders of the identified needs, but you should acknowledge organisational drivers and stakeholders’ contributions when setting strategic goals.

An identified priority area indicates the need for introducing a new AHA role to support a case manager. Is there anything else we need to consider?

In a generic role that could be performed by a nurse or an AHP, such as a case manager, you need to set up structures to ensure an AHP is delegating to and supervising the AHA supporting this role.

You would need to consider this when recruiting for the case manager role.

Project finalisation

Are there any recommended strategies for maintaining the momentum for allied health workforce reform?

Strategies for maintaining the momentum for allied health workforce may include, but are not limited to: allocating staff to an AHA workforce portfolio, engaging management in the implementation of the AHA workforce strategic plan, setting up reporting structures, and re-collecting data at a set time point to ascertain progress.

Two main approaches have proved successful in progressing workforce reform after the AHA implementation program: 1) allocating a specific role for leadership, professional operation and AHA workforce development and 2) designating an executive staff member who has promoted and facilitated this work.