Working at Level 4 of the Career Framework, Assistant Practitioner roles often work across traditional role boundaries.
Assistant Practitioners are defined as;
“...a worker who competently delivers health and social care to and for people. They have a required level of knowledge and skill beyond that of the traditional healthcare assistant or support worker. The Assistant Practitioner would be able to deliver elements of health and social care and undertake clinical work in domains that have previously only been within the remit of registered professionals. The Assistant Practitioner may transcend professional boundaries. They are accountable to themselves, their employer, and, more importantly, the people they serve.”
Skills for Health (2009 pg 1) - Core Standards for Assistant Practitioners
The Assistant Practitioner Role
The North West has developed over 3000 qualified Assistant Practitioners since September 2002 and there are a number of APs in training. Evidence from the evaluation of qualified Assistant Practitioners showed that the Assistant Practitioner role is now an established role across a range of services (for example theatres, ward areas, stroke services, community settings, social care, long term conditions, intermediate care, children’s, learning disability, therapy, GP practices and mental health). Based on organisational requirement and service user needs, Assistant Practitioners often work across traditional role boundaries (including allied health professionals, social work, healthcare science, nursing, pharmacy and public health).
The Assistant Practitioner role is about providing direct or indirect care and/or treatment to a variety of service users across a wide range of service areas. Assistant Practitioners support the whole of the registered workforce and follow the patient pathway through the service and often deliver a range of nursing, therapy, social care and health promotion skills, this is in contrast to other health roles which may focus on a specific part of a patient's care or relate to one professional role.
There are a number of examples of North West case studies depicting the variety and impact of the AP role available on the Hub website.
Across the North West, organisations have developed a number of specific level 4 roles within smaller professions including Assistant Practitioners in Radiotherapy, using the Clinical Diploma in Oncology at Sheffield Hallam University (North West wide provision) and Associate Practitioner roles within Healthcare Science through a specific Foundation Degree in Healthcare Science at Manchester Metropolitan University (North West wide provision). The North West has also supported the development of Assistant Practitioners within Forensic Learning Disabilities through the University of Cumbria Foundation Degree Supporting Vulnerable Adults in Forensic.