Allied to each other and the communities we serve….identity, values, cousins, quality, passion, trains, leadership, monkeys, assets!

“Allied to each other and the communities we serve.

Dear Readers,

Views my own. Read this post if the following word chain has you feeling curious: AHPs, identity, values, cousins, quality, passion, trains, leadership, monkeys, assets!

I am an Allied Health Professional. I am also the project lead for delivering a Consensus Statement on AHP Scotland Quality Service Values/ Values Based Standards.

For as long as I have been an Allied Health Professional, I have also been a Speech and Language Therapist and for as long as I have been an SLT, I have felt the frustration and isolation of being part of a much bigger community without really knowing what it means for me, you, our service users and our many other stakeholders, to inhabit this place.

I am an Allied Health Professional.

Yesterday I met up with close family who I hadn’t seen for many years. I journeyed by train and was surprised to find that I could travel directly to them – I had pegged them as ‘remote’, yet we were living along the same track!

Train

So….. now you know that I love metaphor. It is the clarity that sprung for me from my journey yesterday that is prompting me to write this post ‘urgently’ to you today:  YOU, the 10000 plus Allied Health Professionals who are my working life family.

  • Do you know the names of the Allied Health Professions we have in Scotland?
  • Have you thought about what it is that connects us – what our unique function across health, social care, education, the criminal justice system, third and independent sectors is?
  • Do you know what you would be standing for if you were called ‘to the table’ to represent all of your Allied Health colleagues?
  • Would you feel able to do this with the integrity of knowing yourself as an Allied Health Professional and not just the specific profession for which you have trained?

 AHP Scotland Consensus statement – ALL ABOARD!

‘The Scottish Government will work in partnership with AHP directors and the AHP Federation Scotland to develop a consensus statement on AHP quality standards in Scotland in 2013.’ [p29 of the AHP National Delivery Plan]

In answer to some of my questions above; I am working to a count of 12 Allied Health Professions in Scotland. (Grimmer- Somers et al. 2012 will confirm that this number can vary depending on country, professional titles and what particular piece of research you are reading but in Scotland our Allied Health Professions are the arts therapists – art, drama and music, dieticians, occupational therapists, orthoptists, podiatrists and chiropodists, prosthetists and orthotists, physiotherapists, radiographers (diagnostic and therapeutic), speech and language therapists and paramedics.

Each of the Allied Health Professions is governed by their professional body and has unique clinical and professional standards. In addition, a small number of professions have recently published uni-professional quality service standards. Many of these standards contain value based statements, however, whilst these offer good examples of individual practice to draw on, there is currently no single statement or framework of core, common values which transparently brings the Allied Health Professions together into partnership and which underpins our identity as AHPs.

Heuston Station

If you like, we have become a train, interlinked carriages, poised to go places but despite hearing the whistle people are still hesitant to climb aboard and despite all the tremendous work involving and being led by AHPs that is ongoing in many different work streams, still we can be rendered faceless in the eyes and minds of our non AHP colleagues. I am an Allied Health Professional yet at the 2nd International Conference on Co-production and Community Capacity Building last week, my category in the delegate survey was ‘other’.

‘Some of the strongest, most enduring relationships service users have are with Allied Health Professionals’ (Ian Welsh CE, Health and Social Care Alliance). Yet, many service users and other stakeholders are uncertain about the role of the Allied Health Professions, how we deliver services and the quality outcomes we add value to.

Equally without an agreed value base, without a unifying culture, in my experience, it becomes increasingly harder to find coherence in and stay connected to the highly complex quality policy arena to which we are pinning transformative change in Allied Health Professions service provision.

AoC

An esteemed colleague offered the following analogy recently which I now paraphrase, “We have a great strap line – (see title to this post), for sure we have a unique selling point – we represent the biopsychosocial model of health and care, and we have a fantastic product – we give people vision for return of function but what we don’t have is a marketing strategy.  How do we tell the world what it means to be an AHP, what our collective identity is and what we stand for and if we can’t do that, how can we bring influence to bear when it comes to the crunch?”

There are reasons why we have struggled with this: we do have a complex discipline mix, we do provide a complex and diverse range of services and we cover many different locations and geographical spreads[1] , however we are also a vast group, a multi skilled group and a dedicated, committed and professional group with, I believe, much in common.

I have mentioned the National Delivery Plan, but before that even, the Healthcare Quality Strategy and the 20:20 Vision and Strategic Narrative made absolute the important role the Allied Health Professions have to play in the transformation of health and social care services. Specifically, The Strategic Narrative calls for ‘ …a shared understanding with the people of Scotland which sets out what they should expect in terms of high quality healthcare services..’

I believe that the Allied Health Professions collectively have a responsibility to let service users and other stakeholders know what they can expect by way of quality service provision. A consensus statement on AHP Scotland Quality Service Values will go some way to meeting this need.

I will leave you with this image;

patasmonkeyIn Africa, on honeymoon 23 years ago, a vervet monkey leapt onto the table at which I sitting. This monkey, he (N.b. gender crucial to image), was displaying some marvellous, almost fluorescent blue assets (*phew!… neat swerving of indelicate language*). Truly they were mesmerising. This monkey resurfaced for me at the end of my Delivering Leadership Excellence training and he is here again today. I have changed my twitter profile because of this monkey as I now too display my essential professional assets – I am an Allied Health Professional, in fluorescent blue, pink, green whatever! I am an Allied Health Professional!

Yolanda Strachan

twitter-bird-white-on-blue@Yol_ahp


[1] Grimmer-Somers et al (2012) International Centre for Allied Health Evidence (iCAHE), University of South Australia.

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