Support worker’s guide to working with allied health professionals

Hireup support worker Alax McGilvray explains the importance of attending her client Domenico’s allied health appointments to confidently implement his physiotherapy plan.

Alax first met the Agostino family eight years ago and since then she has been supporting nine-year-old Domenico, including helping implement his physiotherapy plan.

She said she shared her tips to help other support workers know that they’re a part of the process, and that they can make a big difference.

“I attend physio with Domenico and Michelle (Domenico’s mum) every week,” Alax said.

“I talk with the physios and spend time learning why we’re doing a certain activity and how it benefits that part of the body. I’ve found that working with physiotherapists makes a big difference.”

Domenico has been accessing physio for the past three years remotely.

“We do a video call with his physio, and run through his exercises,” Alax said.

“On a regular basis, we do standing frame activities, to make sure he’s weight bearing to improve his hips. We also do a lot of intentional sitting in different positions so that his lower half practices moving in a different way, and that his torso gets stronger by holding himself up.”

“It’s hard work but I think paediatric physios do an incredible job of making (physio) fun.”

Alax and Michelle usually attend these sessions together.

“I’ll be on the floor assisting the physio – if they need an extra pair of hands, I’m that person. I’ve always felt as though I have the freedom to ask questions and make suggestions,” Alax said.

“We’ve also done hydrotherapy. So Michelle and I take Domenico to the pool and I jump in the water with him.”

“I support his upper body to make sure he’s safe in the water, while the therapist stretches with him in the water.”

While being Domenico’s support worker is Alax’s first foray into the world of allied health, she said it’s important to know how someone is assisted In order to support someone in a holistic and compassionate way.

“For instance, if Michelle and his allied health team didn’t tell me how to best support Domenico while sitting, I could put him in a position that’s uncomfortable, or harmful for his body,” she said.

“On a safety level, these are things a support worker needs to know.”

“If you trust your support worker enough, it’s important to share this information with them so they can support you to the best of their ability.”

Alex said it was important that if support workers wanted to get involved, they had to ask if that is what is wanted, first, and then have explained to them the reasons behind each exercise.

“I think just supporting a support worker to be involved, get them engaged and help them to know that they’re a part of the process, and that they can make a big difference” she said.

Our thanks to Hireup and Alax for this informative article, and for sharing these wonderful tips. We hope our readers find them useful too.

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