Monday, 5 April 2010

Assistant practitioners

Where do they fit into the workforce?

I am obliged to Susie Mallett for sending me the URL of an illuminating research article in this week's Nursing Times, that casts some light on to this question from an adjcent field. The example comes from the nursing profession in the British National Health Service but, as the atrticle itself points out the problems touched upon are manifest worldwide:

Wakefield, A., Spilsbury, K., Atkin, K., McKenna H. (2010) What work do assistant practitioners do and where do they fit into the workforce? Nursing Times, 30 March

The basic problem to be solved comes from introduction of assistant practitioners in both fields, to help bridge a spiralling workforce gap. In nursing, terminology is also spiralling: 'senior support workers', advanced nursing assistants', lead healthcare assistants' being amongst titles already on the scene. In response to growing occupational pressures nurses are shifting their professional boundaries, both upwards and downwards. Upwards mean taking on increasingly complex medical tasks. Downwards means redistributing what they might regard as 'mundane' tasks to an expanding supportive healthcare workforce. Within this process, day-to-day blurring of boundaries and responsibilities may occur, with the potential for role confusion, role conflict and even professional disputes.

There is plenty more. Read the complete article for yourself. For 'nurses' read 'conductors' and for 'assistant practitioners' read the new 'conductive assistants' now to be trained by the Pető Institute, and wonder whether nurses' today might be in this respect conductors' tomorrow.

In the meantime, Conductive Education might find helpful the five role categories used to classify the ways in which assistant practitioners work in the empirical study reported here – and consider how, whatever the original intentions of the NHS in introducing such assistants, there has been what I would call 'mission creep'. Again, read what happens, substituting conductors and their assistants for nurses and theirs.

The authors' conclusion/recommendation from their findings might well amount to no more than might have been readily foreseen from the situation that is being created. It is none the less valid for that!

...without clear role expectations and professional regulation, standards of care cannot be guaranteed.

So off now goes Conductive Education, to reinvent the wheel. Let is hope that some people are not left puzzling over why square ones – even though they are cheaper and quicker to make – may result in such a bumpy ride.

Conductive assistants

Thank you, Susie, for coming up so quickly with a means to key the little world of Conductive Education into more elaborated discussion in the wider professional cosmos.

This is not the only matter on which Conductive Education might benefit from considering professional publications in adjacent fields.

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