Advice line: delegating tasks to support workers

Careful preparation and thought is needed when delegating tasks to support workers, says CSP professional adviser Alex Nambyiah.

Newly registered physiotherapists will almost always be supported in their new working environments by skilled and experienced support workers.

A particular challenge for new graduates is the practice of safe delegation to support workers. However, by ensuring that delegation occurs as a process and being mindful that the accountability for safe delegation is shared by the registered physiotherapist and support worker, it is possible for new graduates to delegate with confidence.

When considering delegating a task we recommend that registered physiotherapists and support workers think through the following questions together: 

  • is it in the best interests of the patient to delegate the task? Delegation should not occur because a registered physiotherapist is unavailable.
  • does the task to be delegated fall within the support worker’s role?
  • how complex is the task and what is the context in which the task is to be delegated? Consider, for this patient, presenting in this way at this point in time, needing this intervention, is it appropriate for a support worker to undertake the task?
  • has the patient consented to the delegation of the task? For patients unable to consent, follow usual best interest decision making. 
  • is the support worker competent and confident to undertake the task? Do they have the necessary knowledge, skills and training? Could you and the support worker evidence this competence if required?
  •  is there a system in place for the support worker to contact a registered physiotherapist if required and to discuss the outcome of the delegated task?  

If the answer to all these questions is yes it is safe for the registered physiotherapist to delegate the task and for the support worker to accept it. 

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