The introduction and evaluation of an occupational therapy assistant practitioner

Document Type


Publication details

Nancarrow S & Mackey, H 2005, 'The introduction and evaluation of an occupational therapy assistant practitioner', Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 293-302.

The definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1630.2005.00531.x

Peer Reviewed



Background and Aim: 

This paper describes the introduction and evaluation of an extended role occupational therapy support worker, called an ‘occupational therapy assistant practitioner’.

Methods and Results: 

The evaluation took place within a single health care trust and involved focus groups with four groups of stakeholders: assistant practitioners; their supervisors; managers; and service users. The evaluation identified a lack of access to appropriate training; ambiguous supervision and accountability relationships; and a lack of a clear career direction for qualified occupational therapists, creating uncertainty about which aspects of their job they should be ‘giving away’.


There is a need to clarify career structures and accountability relationships between existing and new staff members and ensure that appropriate training is available to support staff in their new roles.