Mechanisms for successful workforce change: spotlight on allied health assistants working with older people in the community

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Nancarrow, S & Moran, A 2012, 'Mechanisms for successful workforce change: spotlight on allied health assistants working with older people in the community', paper presented to the 2012 Primary Health Care Research Conference, Canberra, ACT, 18-20 July.

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Aims: The rapid growth of allied health assistants (AHAs) in Australia and the UK presents the opportunity to draw from successful workforce change models in the UK to inform implementation of these roles. The aim of this paper is to identify key mechanisms for successful workforce change through utilisation of AHAs This paper synthesises research findings from three UK and Australian projects examining workforce change in older people’s Community Based Rehabilitation Services (CBRS).
Methods: A synthesis of the findings from three workforce change projects was undertaken using thematic analysis and conceptual modelling. Findings from two comparable large scale UK projects examining workforce flexibility in older people’s CBRSs were synthesised alongside a smaller Australian project examining the implementation of AHA roles to community health settings and contextualised in the literature. Combined, these projects gathered data from over 400 staff, 30 teams and 8000 patients. Findings: Successful workforce change requires consideration of a number of key mechanisms, including, but not limited to, inclusive stakeholder engagement in change processes; a supportive organisational culture; and opportunity for facilitated reflection around team/service process and the change process; ensuring new roles are focussed on having maximum service impact and ensuring there is appropriate and considered matching client needs with the skills and competencies of all staff (assistants and qualified). Implications: There is potential to optimise patient, service and staff outcomes with the utilisation of AHAs in older people’s CBRS when these key mechanisms are employed. These mechanisms can be incorporated into a number of existing workforce redesign tools and used to inform workforce change in other areas of health and social care.