Glossary of Allied Health Professionals - Summer Foundation
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Glossary of Allied Health Professionals


Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists promote health and wellbeing by enabling people to participate in everyday life. This includes self-care activities such as showering, dressing, preparing food; productive activities such as education, work, volunteering and caring for others; and social activities, like being part of a friendship or community group and participating  in a hobby. 

Occupational therapists are crucial in helping people with disability to find ways that  support their participation in work. This may include modifying an activity or an environment.

In order to practice, occupational therapists must:

  • Complete a recognised undergraduate or masters entry-level course in occupational therapy
  • Complete a minimum of 30 hours a year of continuing professional development
  • Meet national regulation requirements as set out by the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia for the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency

Social Worker

Social workers support people to improve their personal and social wellbeing. They do this by identifying issues that need to be  changed and connecting people with support, such as secure housing or family therapy. Social workers know about human behaviour and development, life cycle stages, families and social networks, disability and health, including mental health.

In order to practice, social workers must meet these requirements:

  • Complete a 4-year undergraduate degree or a 2-year master’s degree accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers
  • Complete continuing professional development
  • Meet requirements set out by the Association of Social Workers to comply with the Code of Ethics and Practice Standards
  • Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSW) have extra  training and skills to assist people with diagnosed mental health conditions

Social work is a self-regulated profession that is seeking national registration.

Speech Pathologist

Speech pathologists diagnose and treat communication disorders, such as difficulty speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills and stuttering. They work with people who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disability, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, dementia and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech and language. 

People who have difficulties swallowing food and drink safely may also be helped by a speech pathologist.

Certified Practising Speech Pathologists (CPSP) must:

  • Complete a recognised undergraduate or masters level qualification
  • Complete continuing professional development as set out by Speech Pathology Australia
  • Demonstrate that they have practiced as a speech pathologist in the previous 5 years for a minimum of 1000 hours to meet Recency of Practice requirements

Speech pathology is a self-regulated profession. Speech Pathology Australia is recognised by the Department of Education and Training as the assessing authority for speech pathologists in Australia.

Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists know about the structure of the human body and its movement. They treat a broad range of conditions –  from sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions to  chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis and stroke. Physiotherapists work on the assessment, diagnosis, planning and management of patient care.

Practitioners must complete a bachelor, masters or professional doctorate program. They must also do supervised practice in a clinical setting. Physiotherapists are required by law to be registered under the National Physiotherapy Board of Australia. Members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association must also complete continuing professional development.

Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner 

Behaviour support focuses on evidence-based strategies and person-centred supports to address the needs of the person with disability and the underlying causes of behaviours of concern, while safeguarding their dignity and quality of life.

Both specialist behaviour support providers (who engage NDIS behaviour support practitioners), and providers who use regulated restrictive practices (implementing providers), must meet the requirements outlined in the National Disability Insurance Scheme Restrictive Practices and Behaviour Support Rules 2018.

Psychologist

Psychologists can help people change the way they think, feel, behave and react. Psychologists study the brain, memory, learning and human behaviour. Psychological treatments can help individuals, families, groups and organisations.

In order to practice, psychologists must:

  • Complete a recognised qualification with a minimum of 6 years education, training and supervised experience
  • Register with the Psychology Board of Australia
  • Adhere to the Australian Psychological Society Code of Ethics
  • Complete continuing professional development and meet all requirements of the Psychology Board of Australia

Some psychologists complete further qualifications to gain practice endorsement in areas including:

  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Clinical psychology
  • Community psychology
  • Counselling psychology
  • Educational and developmental psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Organisational psychology
  • Sport and exercise psychology

Recovery Coach

A recovery coach is an NDIS funded worker that has mental health knowledge. A recovery coach will:

  • Spend time with you, and people important to you, to get to know you and understand your needs
  • Help you find out about different services and supports, and how these can help you
  • Help you get support from mental health services
  • Help you better understand the NDIS and support you with the NDIS

You can choose a recovery coach with lived experience. A recovery coach with lived experience has their own experience of mental ill health and recovery and is able to use this to inform their work.

References

Allied Health Professionals Australia https://ahpa.com.au/allied-health-professions/ 

NDIS https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/how-ndis-works/mental-health-and-ndis 

NDIS Commission https://www.ndiscommission.gov.au/providers/behaviour-support 

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