Valuing and investing in support workers

Within our outpatient physiotherapy department we have worked hard to invest in the career progression of both our physiotherapists and support workers.  

Tina Bale Photo: David Harrison

Over recent years we have looked to challenge the common misconception that support workers can only progress to band 4. Tina Bale is an example of one of our highly valued support workers who started her working life as a shepherdess and theatre steward before becoming a band 2 physiotherapy assistant. 

Over 22 years, Tina showed a determination to develop her skills and knowledge, which we supported through a mixture of teaching, mentoring, NVQ assessing and funding. This two-way commitment meant that Tina was able to achieve a NVQ level 3 in diagnostic and therapeutic support and a foundation degree in health and social care that she later developed into a BSc in applied health and social care.  

As a band 4, Tina led joint replacement, aquatherapy and Pilates classes, treated new and follow-up patients within her scope of practice, completed audits, mentored staff, and provided talks to the public. She was working above her band 4 role and it was important for us to recognise her value within the team.

Her job description was re-written and an application for a job banding review was submitted to human resources which was matched as a band 5 role. We were flexible with the budget and encouraged creative skill mixing within the team by looking at skills sets and not job titles. This approach, combined with Tina’s drive for development, enabled us to upgrade Tina to her band 5 position, which she thoroughly deserved.

Tina Bale said: ‘I am proud to work with such an innovative team who value and recognise the work carried out by their colleagues.’ 


Support workers are unqualified


They are non-registered but not unqualified. The vast majority of support workers have qualifications that enable them to work safely and effectively in their role, and most want access to qualifications that reflect their knowledge and skills and support their career development. Increasingly, employers are keen to ensure that their support workers have or work towards a qualification.

  • Sarah Spice, adult therapy operational lead (MSK physio, CAS, OT), Medway Community Healthcare

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