Therapy &
Practice

 

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Can assistants relieve the burden on therapy professions?

 

As our society ages, hospitals today are not usually lacking in patients, but in skilled professionals. Without exception, healthcare facilities face the challenge of having to do more with ever scarcer resources. A contradiction in itself? Not necessarily. But the changes require innovative care concepts and new structures in hospitals.

Text: Jakob Tiebel
  

It is increasingly reported in specialist journals that sometimes entire task areas in hospitals are relocated. Physiotherapists who yesterday were still encouraging patients to exercise are today taking on more and more management and coordination tasks, while therapy assistants are getting the patients moving. Of course, this is according to a predetermined plan, which the specialist has previously created on the basis of a diagnosis.

Is this the future of inter-professional collaboration in rehabilitation? 

At the very least, a lot of indicators are pointing to this, because the fact is that the increasing complexity of care cannot be met by employing more skilled workers. They are simply not out there, and even if they were, there would be clear limits from a health economics point of view. The solution therefore really seems to lie in a new distribution of tasks.

Sensitivity and good planning required

However, such restructuring also arouses ambitions and can create resistance. Change processes are therefore by no means trivial. It requires a lot of tact, and precise planning. The interfaces between doctors, nurses, therapists and therapy assistants must be freshly and, above all, very precisely coordinated. Assistants can then be a great asset – not least for patients, as they in particular can be given the attention they need as a result.

When things work out, everyone benefits in the end. The burden on doctors is eased, because they can focus on medical care. Therapists take on more responsibility for the rehabilitation process, and the assistants are satisfied because they play an exciting and interesting role between the therapist and the patient.

A model without risks? 

Assuming that implementation is right, there are certainly far more opportunities than risks. For therapists, however, an extension of competence and greater responsibility are based on a clear requirement: measures to be taken must be evidence-based, and scientifically proven in their effectiveness! Otherwise there is a risk of being deemed unreliable and open to criticism.