Celebrating Allied Health Professionals Day

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 14th October, 2019

Today is the second occasion an annual Allied Health Professions (AHPs) Day is taking place across the country. It is an opportunity to recognise the contribution of AHPs to patient care and population health, and a chance for other professions to get to know and celebrate the range of AHP skills and achievements.

Allied Health Professionals are made up of 14 different professions including: Dietitians, Art Therapists, Music Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs), Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Physiotherapists. AHPs are now the second largest healthcare workforce!

SLTs, Physios and OTs work collaboratively within the Learning Disability Intensive Assessment and Treatment teams in many ways, including:

  • Ensuring that the individual eats and drinks safely, and that the person is supported to enjoy mealtimes
  • Establishing how to manage the impact of postural or respiratory needs on the person’s ability to enjoy meals times safely
  • Supporting the individual to communicate their choices, needs and wants
  • Exploring motivation, patterns of occupation, the environment and individual functional engagement levels
  • Assessing the individual and providing skills training/recommendations to help carers understand the person’s support needs.

Speech and Language therapist Sarah Amoah, Physiotherapist Laura Canning and Occupational Therapist Sarah Barker talk about their roles, what brought them to their professions and why they enjoy working collaboratively with other AHPs within their teams.

Sarah Amoah

1. What made you want to do your current job?

After my language degree I realised I wanted to work with people and not do teaching, translation or interpreting which I thought I would end up doing. I volunteered with Afasic, a children’s charity for young people with speech, language and communication needs. I really enjoyed working with the older teenagers to access their community once support from health and education services had stopped. Volunteering with Afasic spurred me on to become a speech therapist.

2. What does your role involve?

I work in the learning disability inpatient’s Additional Support Unit and with the community Intensive Assessment and Treatment Team (IATT). Work involves working within the MDT, assessing people’s communication and/ or eating and drinking needs, and delivering training on dysphagia and Total Communication to carers.

3. What is the best thing about being an AHP?

The best thing about being an AHP is that I get to work with creative people who are great at working collaboratively when trying to achieve the best outcome for the people we work with. It’s also great being able to work with individuals and look at all areas of a person’s life rather than focusing on a specific area.

Laura Canning

1. What made you want to do your current job?

As a teenager I was involved with the Great Britain Judo Team and exposed to sports physiotherapy and injury management. I decided early on that this was a career I was interested in. Early into my undergraduate studies I started volunteering with PedalPower, a charity started by physiotherapists providing accessible cycling for adults with learning and physical disabilities in Cardiff. At the same time, I started paid work with an autism skills development club working with children with autism. These experiences, as well as varied student placements, changed my focus from sports physiotherapy to management of long term neurological conditions and physiotherapy with adults who have learning disabilities.

2. What does your role involve?

I work within the Learning Disabilities Directorate both as a physiotherapist in the community IATT and as a Specialist Postural Management Physiotherapist, a new role established in 2018. Work involves assessing people’s body structure and function in respects to posture, movement and neuromuscular system. This requires a holistic approach considering all aspects of an individual’s physical health, environment and emotional wellbeing. We work closely with caregivers and deliver bespoke training within all care settings.

3. What is the best thing about being an AHP?

The best thing about being an AHP is that no two days are the same. The varying needs of clients and caregivers allow for continued development as a clinician and this diversity enhances job satisfaction. Working with clinicians from a variety of different backgrounds with different skillsets allows us to optimise intervention and achieve the best outcomes for people we work with.

Sarah Barker

1. What made you want to do your current job?

I wanted to work in a care profession and after doing voluntary work the Occupational Therapy department of a local psychiatric hospital I applied to train to be an occupational therapist. I was always interested in working with people with learning disabilities and got my current job soon after qualifying. I started work at the time when the long-stay institutions were closing down and working in the community, and supporting people to learn how to live as part of their community was very exciting.

2. What does your role involve?

I am still working to help people live in their communities and have fulfilled lives. My work involves sharing my knowledge and understanding of people’s complex needs and creating individualised activity plans. This also involves sharing knowledge with care givers and families. It requires creative thinking and good problem solving to find out what is most meaningful for an individual.

3. What is the best thing about being an AHP?

It is great to work within a multidisciplinary team with different members bringing ideas to solve a person’s challenges. The specific skills of different professionals produce a comprehensive assessment and care plan plus opportunities to learn more about each other’s professions.

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