Allied health professionals are a crucial part of the Australian health care industry. They provide specialist knowledge and treatments that go above and beyond the typical work of medical or nursing staff, in order to help patients address specific issues, ailments and diseases. This is especially important in aged care, where a wider variety of conditions are likely to present themselves, due to the simple fact that the human body changes as we grow older.
Accordingly, it's crucial for an RACF to have expert care providers on site or close at hand, to address any medical issues that may arise, and effectively treat them before a more serious problem develops. While there are a wide variety of allied health professions, there are a few that are especially important in aged care. In this article, we'll take a look at these five, and break down why every RACF should have access to them.
This area of care is defined by the Australian Physiotherapy Association as "a health care profession that assesses, diagnoses, treats and works to prevent disease and disability through physical means." Obviously this is particularly important in an aged care environment, where seniors may find that their bodies begin to break down, resulting in discomfort and sometimes more severe pain. Physio can not only alleviate this, but with the right treatment, physical mobility can be restored, having a huge impact on a resident's day to day life. Of course, physio and other allied health professions can also have a positive impact on funding through ACFI, allowing for better delivery of services to residents.
2. Occupational therapy
The work of an occupational therapist is often lumped in together with physiotherapy, but in reality the two fields are very different. OT is less focused on restoring mobility and more geared towards enabling "people to participate in the activities of everyday life," as per Occupational Therapy Australia. For many resident's the decline in their ability to perform certain tasks can be incredibly frustrating, and can have a negative psychological impact. The work of an OT is therefore critical when it comes to maintaining the right level of ability.
You'll want to make sure that your staff have a basic knowledge of all these different areas.
3. Speech Pathology
Issues with speech and swallowing are some of the most common ailments experienced by elderly residents. Speech pathology encompasses a broad range of conditions, ranging from difficulties with language right through to the possibility of choking. A speech pathologist has the necessary knowledge to treat the underlying causes of these problems, which can make life much easier for your residents. This is especially true with communication, which, when lost, can have a hugely damaging effect on a senior's psyche. Recruiting an expert in this specialised field will help to prevent this from happening.
A final allied health professional that no RACF should operate without is an experienced dietician. As the human body ages, the type of fuel that it requires changes too. Accordingly, the creation of menus and meal plans becomes critical in aged care, especially with specific dietary requirements such as diabetes and allergies. Of course, there are also specific nutritional needs post-surgery, or for underweight residents. No matter the issue, a dietician can make the difference.
A final allied health profession that can prove invaluable to an RACF is podiatry. This is critical for retaining mobility and functionality, as well as avoiding and treating unpleasant conditions such as ingrown toenails. A podiatrist will also be equipped to deal with conditions like diabetes, making the care offerings of an RACF that much more versatile.
Of course, it isn't always possible to have an allied health professional on site at all times. Instead, you'll want to make sure that your staff have a basic knowledge of all these different areas, so that if any unexpected situations arise, they'll be equipped to assist and refer to specialists. This education can be facilitated by in-service training, whereby the team at Australian Health Professionals can arrange for sessions to make sure a RACF's team is prepared for anything.
For more information on allied health recruitment or education and training, along with other services like permanent recruitment and consulting services get in touch with the expert team at Australian Health Professionals today.