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Staff from the CDHBs Allied Health Team ready to embark on new training together with Careerforce Workplace Advisors,  Andy Bunn and Joanna Martino.

A new on-the-job-training scheme for Allied Health workers was launched in Canterbury recently.

Twenty One Canterbury DHB Allied Health Assistants are beginning the new 15-month course, giving them the opportunity to gain a National Certificate in Health Assistance – Rehabilitation Assistance Strand.

This opportunity has been made possible thanks to the Regional Allied Health Assistant Development Project – an initiative of the South Island Regional Training Hub Allied Health Work stream.  The goal was to develop a framework for the implementation of Allied Health Assistant (AHA) Training and Development into the five regional South Island DHBs using the Careerforce NZQA Level 3 National Certificate in Health, Disability, and Aged Support (Health Assistants).

Stella Ward, Canterbury and West Coast DHB Executive Director of Allied Health, says the qualifications will formally recognise the skills the assistants already have, as well as develop new skills and broaden their knowledge.

“The idea is that in the future allied health assistants will be more equipped to support all Allied Health services.  Allied Health Assistants currently work under a supervising health professional and once qualified will have a broader understanding of what different Allied Health professionals do,” Stella says.

“Instead of sending several people to follow up a patient, we will be able to send just one person.  It’s about giving them skills to work across Allied Health services as we work towards flexibility in our future workforce.”

The certificate programme is being run through Careerforce and has strands in Dietitian Assistance, Dental Assistance, Healthcare Assistance and Rehabilitation Assistance. Training for AHAs using the Dental and/or Rehabilitation Assistance strands is now underway in each of the South Island District Health Boards co-ordinated by Catherine Coups from the South Island Regional Training Hub (SIRTH).

“Changes to the current AHA workforce can, through provision of appropriate training and support, and development of more generic skills and roles, ensure the infrastructure is in place to support Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) to maximise their effectiveness; and support provision of Allied Health services to patients and their families/whānau in hospital, community and home, in better, more convenient ways.

“It also means we can provide services closer to people’s home as this project will support the development of an AHA workforce with more generic /flexible skills which can be better integrated across hospital, community and home.

“The Allied Health Assistants (AHAs) workforce is critical to meeting changes in the future health workforce needs.  With training and support from AHPs, AHAs have the potential to increase capacity for service provision by enabling the limited AHP resource to concentrate on complex assessment and intervention, for example the most appropriate people doing the right task.”

Careerforce Workplace Advisors,  Andy Bunn and Joanna Martino have been supporting Catherine Coups (Project Lead from South Island Regional Training Hub Allied Health Work Stream) to roll-out  the training along with establishing Assessors throughout the South Island.    Careerforce Client Services Team Leader, Anita Faulkner and her team have also provided invaluable support during the roll-out of this training to the South Island DHBs.

Updated 7 August 2014