Busting myths about support workers

We share some common myths about support workers and put them to bed once and for all. 

There are many long-held assumptions and beliefs about support worker practice. These range from what they can and can’t do, to how far they can progress in their careers.

Inaccurate or outdated beliefs and assumptions hold back support staff and can limit the significant contribution they are able to make to the profession.

So what are the myths about support workers? Professional advisor Claire Fordhams busts them all in turn.

Myth 1: support workers are unqualified staff

Support workers are not registered healthcare professionals but they are certainly 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.

Myth 2: there are laws and rules that dictate what can and can’t be delegated to a support worker and what they are and are not allowed to undertake.

Delegation is a complex process based on good decision making but limits on delegation are not as many as we think.

Myth 3: I don’t feel comfortable and confident delegating to a support worker, at the end of the day I’ll be accountable if they do something wrong.

This is a very common concern, but is it true? We explain the real story of responsibility and accountability surrounding delegation.

Myth 4: there is a rule that clinical support workers cannot progress beyond the level of a Band 4 in the NHS.

We dispel this assumption and explain why it is broadly inaccurate. We also explain the very careful considerations that should be made in practice when developing new roles and new ways of working.

Myth 5: support workers who work in a blended role e.g. they support a combination of Therapies can’t join the CSP – there’s nothing in it for them.

Any support worker who undertakes delegated tasks and activities that, in the broadest sense, support patients to meet physiotherapy goals and aims and who are supervised by a registered healthcare professional are welcomed into our Associate membership category. 

We have a varied range of membership benefits and our professional development resources are useful for any support worker.

In particular, our employment relations and trade union services are provided by workplace contacts and staff members who are experienced in working with therapy services. Our Associate members who are multi-professional therapy support workers report that this aspect of their membership is highly valued.

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