Celebrating our AHP workforce

Well happy allied health professions (AHPs) day everyone!

by Grawlinson

By Gillian Rawlinson, CSP assistant director, practice and development

Gill Rawlinson

We’ve got so much to be thankful for as we reflect on one of the most difficult periods any of us have ever faced in the health and social care sector. As we look ahead, I wanted to reflect on the opportunities and challenges facing AHPs and physiotherapists as we try to reset, find opportunities to develop and have even greater impact.

The first thing to do though is to say a huge thanks to all of our AHPs for everything you have done this year. Whoever you are and wherever you work, it has been tough and it is essential now that we focus on nurturing our health and wellbeing.

As the recovery begins and ageing populations live longer, often with multiple health needs, people need AHPs more than ever. As the demand for a growing healthcare workforce is also evident, we must commit to continuing to develop and grow our AHP workforce, creating opportunities across all sectors, so everyone can reach their potential. 

This includes valuing and developing our AHP support worker workforce. We need to work innovatively to create the roles that they are capable of moving into and ensure that they have access to the right training and support to work effectively in those roles. We need every member of our teams to be working at the height of their capability to meet the massive demand on our services.

Our cross-professional AHP support worker consensus statement and capability framework shows the importance and benefit workforce development can bring to patients and communities. Our recent students on placement at the CSP also developed a series of learning resources for universities to teach our students about how to work with support workers more effectively. 

Students have had a particularly difficult time during the pandemic. Our AHP practice educator teams have risen to the challenge yet again and innovated in the way placements are delivered. This is a change we definitely want to see stay. You can see these placement innovations and share yours at our CSP placement profile pages and many offer opportunities for inter-professional learning.  

We are also taking the big step of reviewing the knowledge skills and behaviours of the future physiotherapy workforce in the KNOWBeST education review project. We’d love you all to contribute and shape the future physiotherapy workforce, so please read more about how you can get involved. We’ve also launched the common placement assessment form (CPAF) to support educators and improve the student experience, something we know AHP colleagues are also keen to explore. 

As the workforce recovers, we must support all AHPs in developing integrated skills across clinical, research, leadership and education at all levels. We must ensure our new graduates get the support and development opportunities they need in these difficult times. Many employers are designing supportive preceptorship programmes to achieve this and in partnership with AHP colleagues, we'll be taking this initiative forward at the CSP.

As we emerge from the pandemic, we must take all the learning and opportunities we have been afforded to continue to grow and develop as a profession and as an AHP body. Together we are stronger and we must foster a strong and diverse workforce. To ensure everyone feels they belong and make a difference, a robust career framework is being developed to achieve this. 

We as AHPs can offer many solutions to the workforce challenges within health and social care, such as increasing development of advanced practitioners in primary care and community rehabilitation services, so patients can realise the benefits of AHPs close to home. Physiotherapy has a healthy workforce supply which is increasingly diverse and we must fully utilise this.

It is not always easy to see opportunities and what is possible when we are jaded, but reflecting on and measuring our impact makes it worthwhile. Considering your own development goals and aspirations is an important process. Taking time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you are going can help you get the most from your career.

Remember, there is no one way to be an AHP. Reach out to others to find mentors, networks and other support, and nurture your colleagues too. Why not reach out to a fellow AHP or student and offer your support this AHPs day.      

Placement innovation films 

FCP career guide 

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