Thursday, 8 April 2010

A world of assistants

Future scenario within Conductive Education?

It is funny how once you notice something it begins to pop up in all sorts of place.

A couple of days ago Conductive World reported an article in Nursing Times, on the spread of nurses' established skills and responsibilities downwards into various levels of health care axillaries (as well as upwards into 'medical' roles):

The thought occurred that in such respects nurses' today might indicate something of conductors' tomorrow – one scenario at least.

Today on the news stands

Today being Thursday, the day in the UK when new editions of magazines hit the news stands, it was off to the the newsagents to check whether there was any follow-up to the article in the previous issue of Nursing Times, and indeed whether there might be of interest too or in the British Journal of Nursing.

There was no follow-up, and nothing of interest (to me) in either publication, but there between them on the shelf stood a goodly stock of sometime that I had never noticed before: the British Journal of Healthcare Assistants and Assistant Practitioners.

This periodical is now in its third year of publication and the fact that it sells (and sells out) in hight street newsagents testifies to the size of a customer base ready to pay money to read about its work. This is how the journal describes itself on its website –

British Journal of Healthcare Assistants is the new monthly journal for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners. Launched in April 2007, it is the only journal in the UK to recognize the importance and potential of this large group of healthcare workers.

Each issue contains a wide range of evidence-based articles providing positive examples of good practice. Every article highlights learning outcomes to support practitioners' on-going training and to help extend their knowledge and skills in all areas of practice.

For healthcare read conductive...

The open-access online edition is not open-access but pay-only. It is not, however, the actual content that is under consideration here. What matters are that it exists at all and what it represents, that 'assistants' in the field of UK are taking their destinies into their own hands. Here is the summary of the editors' first editorial, from exactly three years ago –

On behalf of the editorial board, we would like to welcome you to the British Journal of Healthcare Assistants (BJHCA), which is in every sense a journal for, and about, working as a healthcare assistant or an assistant practitioner. We know there are many of you out there providing hands-on care to patients in various health and social care settings such as the community, residential care settings, and hospitals, and that this direct contribution to health and social care benefits patients and clients. We also know that many of you are hungry to learn, and to continue learning, and to have your experience taken into account. Our aims are rooted in recognizing and championing your contribution to the caring services

A new professional stratum

The healthcare assistants have certainly been getting their act together, and why not, as without them huge swathes of the British National Health Service just would not function. It seems likely that the same goes for health services around the world, and doubtless there are analogous publications in other countries too to represent this (and analogous tendencies among, say, therapy and teaching assistants).

The British Journal of Healthcare Assistants seems to cover the interests of a professional stratum similar to the range of conductive assistants, conductor aides etc. already to be found around the world in all sorts of CE settings. Healthcare assistants exist of course in far greater numbers. They know the value and essential nature of what they do, and they recognise and pursue their common concerns and aspirations, which are not necessarily those of the nurses. To put it ddifferently, they sense their power.

Conductive centres and programs around the world are also for the most part very dependent upon 'assistants', variously defined. As yet, these assistants seem as yet to have no coherent identity.

They surely will.


Grainger, A, Lloyd Jones, M. (2007) The importance of HCAs and APs, British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, vol. 1 no 1, p. 5

Recent items on 'assistants'

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