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Project Report

Training rural and remote therapy assistants in Western Australia

Submitted: 17 April 2007
Revised: 17 July 2007
Published: 26 September 2007

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Author(s) : Goodale BJ, Spitz S, Beattie NJ, Lin IB.

Belinda GoodaleSuzanne SpitzNicole BeattieIvan Lin

Citation: Goodale BJ, Spitz S, Beattie NJ, Lin IB.  Training rural and remote therapy assistants in Western Australia. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2007; 7: 774. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=774 (Accessed 20 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Context: Therapy assistants (TAs) are widely used in the delivery of therapy services in rural Western Australia (WA). Appropriate training for TAs is an essential part of their practice; however, to date most TAs are trained ‘on-the-job’, thus taxing the scarce resources of rural and remote allied health professionals (AHPs). There has been limited recognized training that is suitable to their role and easily accessed by rural and remote TAs.
Issue: This project report describes the development and evaluation of training for TAs across country WA to address these issues. Sixteen training modules were developed congruent with the requirements of TA work in rural WA. Modules were designed, developed and delivered via videoconference by rural and remote AHPs. A partnership with a registered training provider has allowed TAs to use this training as credit toward a recognized qualification.
Lessons Learnt: A high level of attendance across all country regions of WA confirmed a need for this training. Modules that focussed on a clinical topic, presenters that were well organized, who supplied resources to support the training, and used interactive case scenarios were received most positively. For AHPs this training reduced the work required for training TAs at individual sites. The training resources developed in this project are relevant to other rural and remote health services utilizing a similar model of allied health service delivery. The model of training developed is based on a ‘ground-up’ approach to ensure training meets the established need. Developing stand-alone training packages that are also adapted for distance learning improves the sustainability and accessibility to training. Therapy assistants are now able to use on-the-job training to achieve a recognized qualification. Despite this it is not believed feasible for health services to insist that rural and remote TAs have a standardized qualification for their work. This article adds to a growing body of work describing the key features of rural and remote TA models of service delivery.

Key words:  allied health, Australia, quality assurance, therapy assistants, training, videoconferencing.

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