The allied health workforce is an essential component of Victoria’s health workforce. Demand for allied health services will increase with the ageing of the population, the growing burden of chronic disease and an increasing emphasis on the delivery of multidisciplinary care. The challenge is to meet this demand.
Our response to this challenge needs to consider new service models that make best use of available skills in the current and future health workforce, and to acknowledge the important part these models will play in meeting evolving and increasing service demands.
While the allied health assistant (AHA) workforce has operated in Victoria for many years, the sector is now recognising the enormous benefits these roles can bring to the delivery of allied health services across a broad range of disciplines, settings and program areas.
Allied Health Assistant Implementation Program
The Allied Health Assistant Implementation Program builds on an extensive body of work undertaken by the Department of Health & Human Services to increase the uptake and utilisation of the allied health assistant (AHA) workforce in Victoria.
The program’s aim is to assist health and community services to strategically position themselves to build their AHA and allied health workforce capacity for the future in a sustainable way.
Underpinned by the Supervision and delegation framework for allied health assistants, the program is being rolled out across Victoria via a staged approach.
The program uses the Victorian Assistant Workforce Model (allied health). The model is founded on a robust data collection and analysis methodology developed and piloted by Alfred Health as part of a department-funded project in 2009–2011.
The Allied Health Assistant Implementation Program information sheet has been developed to provide an overview of the program and an outline of each stage.
The department is also supporting the AHA (Medical Imaging) Project, which will further develop and utilise a support workforce within the Victorian medical radiations and imaging sector.
Stage one of the AHA Implementation Program was successfully conducted in 2012–13 across 16 subregional clusters, consisting of 86 rural/regional sites. Each cluster and participating organisation, involving more than 1,000 allied health and community service staff, took part in applying the program’s methodology.
The stage one report outlines the program’s rationale and drivers, as well as the overarching stage one outcomes and findings.
Stage two of the program has been conducted in 11 large metropolitan health services consisting of 24 sites and almost 2,000 allied health staff in 2013–14.
As part of stage two the department has also supported the Victorian level three specialist maternal health services to collaboratively implement the program’s methodology.
The stage two report outlines the project’s scope, key outcomes and future activities. This report should be read in conjunction with the stage one report.
Stage three is focusing on building the AHA workforce and allied health capacity in metropolitan community health and ambulatory service settings to improve access to and continuity of care.
Stage three of the program was conducted in participating community health and ambulatory services from May 2014 to April 2015.
Allied health assistant case studies
Case studies have been compiled to describe how eight different health and community services from across Victoria identified a service need and expanded their allied health services through the utilisation of AHAs.
There are many innovative and inspiring examples of AHA roles that have been developed across Victoria. These case studies are not put forward as representative or more worthy or successful than others. Instead, they build on the usefulness of the Supervision and delegation framework for allied health assistants by providing a cross-section of examples where a service need has been identified and AHA roles have been scoped, implemented and reviewed as part of a successful workforce solution.
These case studies will assist other health and community services to explore opportunities to better utilise their AHA workforce by developing innovative allied health service models to address increasing service demands.