In our continuing professional development series, Nina Paterson, the CSP’s education adviser, considers how support workers can seize the opportunities change presents.
In the last CPD article in the CSP career development series, we finished by looking at what that means for support workers. As promised, we’re staying with support workers for this article too, as we introduce Claire Fordham, the CSP’s new professional adviser, whose remit is to support associate members.
We all know about the importance of support workers in the development of physiotherapists’ practice and profession. None of us would question the importance of support worker colleagues within the physiotherapy workforce.
It is fantastic to see the profession recognising that support workers are integral to the profession’s development. If physiotherapists are to extend their scope and step into the primary care opportunities created by the lack of GPs, for example, that creates the opportunity for support workers to do likewise.
For all of us who are professional advisers here at the CSP, our role is to support you individually and collectively to understand the drivers that steer health and social care at national and local level, and to build on that understanding to navigate your workplace.
Our goal is to help you build resilience, self-awareness and political awareness so that you can make the most of the opportunities that come your way as part of the changing environment around you. Claire’s role, focused on associate members, is no different: as support workers you require those skills and abilities as much as any other member of the team, particularly when you are making the case for personal CPD or arguing for structures that provide you and other support workers with career progression, or extending the scope of your roles.
With a background in physiotherapy clinical leadership and service management, Claire will be working strategically across the organisation and with external partners as she seeks to understand and influence how we best value, represent and champion support workers, and in doing so best serve our associate members. A couple of months into her role, she shares her initial thoughts here on the landscape as she sees it unfolding.
Next steps: making the case
We talk a lot in these articles about making the case for change, either individually or within services or organisations. If you look through any issue of Frontline you’ll see many examples, either as news items or features. When you’re making a case for anything, it’s all about making credible claims backed up with concrete examples and illustrations. Take the Physiotherapy Works briefing series. They spoke the language of commissioners – money and clinical effectiveness.
As Claire’s work moves forward, the best way to help the CSP make the case for change is to provide evidence – case studies and examples – of what is working. The CPD activity box for this article is a call to our members, whether support workers or colleagues who work with you, to showcase your roles.
CPD activity: Shape the CSP’s strategic direction
CSP professional adviser Claire Fordham says: ‘I’m particularly keen to spend time in practice with support workers in all clinical contexts. I want to make sure I see and understand all that you do, offer and contribute, and I want to involve you in shaping our work at the CSP.
‘So if you are reading this as a support worker who would like to showcase your role, or if you are a physiotherapist who knows of support workers who enable services to provide outstanding care and outcomes for patients, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire is keen to hear about evidence of the value/impact/effectiveness of your role, including whether it has changed the way your team or service operates. Has it improved the quality of care? Has it saved time or money, or cut out duplication of effort? If you or your manager has had a chance to evaluate formally your service transformation or change, why not submit your story to the
Claire Fordham in her own words
Support workers have long been recognised, by patients and the teams they work in, for their valuable contribution to care and outcomes. As the population ages, working longer and increasingly living with multiple long-term conditions, the number of support workers and what they provide needs to grow fast.
This is especially true for physiotherapy support workers. As care moves closer to home, we’ll see new support worker roles develop in exciting areas of primary care and public health. It’s likely that new and additional roles will be based in integrated teams to provide care across traditional professional boundaries. This is in addition to the expansion and development of roles sitting in more specific physiotherapy services. New personal development opportunities and career progression routes for support workers are emerging to support this transformation. This is an exciting time.
However, it may also be an unsettling period for support workers who will be asked to play a more direct and hands-on role in patient care and the recovery process, with increased delegation from physiotherapists and a greater role in educating and advising patients and carers. There needs to be clarity, guidance, support, training and education for all clinicians providing physiotherapy care in transforming services, whatever their role. This will be particularly important for support workers and especially for those who work across professional boundaries.
It’s in recognition of these opportunities and challenges that the CSP has invested in and reshaped my role.
Nina Paterson CSP professional adviser
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