What does ‘Allied Health’ mean?
Allied health encompasses a variety of different vocations, and, as it is a relatively new term, there is not yet an agreed-upon definition of what an Allied Health Professional is. However, according to the Allied Health Professions of Australia, allied health is basically anything that does not fall under the medical, dental or nursing professions.
Allied health professions include Dietitian, Audiologist and Psychologist, among others. It also covers physical therapies, which include Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and many more.
What does an Allied Health Assistant do?
One of the best things about being an Allied Health Assistant is that you could find yourself working in a number of different environments in the healthcare sector.
This could be in a public or private hospital, a community clinic, a private practice, an aged care facility or in a school. You might even visit patients in their homes as part of a treatment plan if they have mobility issues.
Throughout your day, you will be directly supporting Doctors, Nurses and Allied Health Professionals in their work while also interacting with patients.
A day in the life of an Allied Health Assistant can be diverse, busy, and rewarding as you work to support patients through various means.
Here are some examples of what a day in the life of an Allied Health Assistant might look like, with a focus on physical therapy.
A day in the life of an Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapy is designed to help people who are suffering from an injury, illness or simply old age which prevents them from performing everyday tasks, like working, doing household chores, driving, personal hygiene, or participating in social events. For example, people who have been in a car accident, or who have suffered a stroke. The end goal of occupational therapy is to help people relearn certain skills so that they can become independent.
As an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you’ll be working with a diverse range of patients who will all have different needs. Their level of therapy will depend on their injury or illness, as well as their personal goals.
Occupational therapy can be quite hands on. So, as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you might be helping patients with physical exercises that are designed to improve their mobility and physical functions. To this end, you’ll also be giving instructions to patients and their carers/family members about the kind of exercises they need to be performing at home to stay on track for recovery. You’ll also be monitoring patients’ progress and performing general admin responsibilities, such as writing progress reports and making appointments.
A day in the life of a Physiotherapy Assistant
In a nutshell, physiotherapy is all about restoring and maintaining functional movement for patients who have suffered an injury. It’s about pinpointing injuries, reducing pain, and enabling a patient to return to full mobility. Physiotherapy also focuses on maintaining this mobility, so that patients can live full, healthy lives.
Many people think that Physiotherapists just deal with sports injuries; but they can help with other things like spinal pain and injuries and post-surgery rehabilitation, among other things. They use various techniques to help patients regain mobility, increase muscle strength and reduce pain. They also recommend treatment plans to patients.
Similar to an Occupational Therapy Assistant, a Physiotherapy Assistant’s role will be to help patients perform their exercises where necessary, as well as educating them on the hows and whys of their treatment plan. You’ll also need to be able to encourage and motivate patients to achieve their goals, and keep trying even when things seem difficult. It will also be your responsibility to stay on top of patient records and documentation.
A day in the life of a Speech Pathology Assistant
Speech Pathologists study, diagnose and treat patients with communication disorders. This might cover difficulties with speaking and listening, as well as difficulties reading and writing. Their patients might have development delays, learning or intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, brain injuries, or have suffered from a stroke.
In the day to day of a Speech Pathology Assistant, you will help the Pathologist with speech, language and hearing screenings and assist during assessments. You will also document treatment plans for patients and provide guidance and treatment as directed by the Pathologist. On top of this, you will provide administrative duties.
As with the other roles listed above, it’s important that as a Speech Pathology Assistant you have a caring and empathetic nature, and that you are able to provide encouragement and support to patients who may be struggling with their communication disorder. Living with a communication disorder can be
frustrating for many people, so it’s important that you are able to give these patients the support they need, when they need it.
How do I become an Allied Health Assistant?
To become an Allied Health Assistant, there are a number of qualifications you can pursue that will help you land a job. OC offers a number of allied health courses, including:
- HLT43015 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Occupational Therapy)
- HLT43015 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Physiotherapy)
- HLT43015 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Speech Pathology)
Are you ready to begin a fulfilling career as an Allied Health Assistant? Make a meaningful impact in peoples’ lives and begin studying today.
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