Why Scotland NEEDS Allied Health Professionals

Blog post by Jacqui Lunday Johnston, Chief Health Professions Officer at the Scottish Government

I am delighted to contribute to this new blog linking the work of the allied health professionals in Scotland to Alzheimer Scotland, the leading charity in Scotland for dementia.

Who are allied health professionals?

Allied health professionals (AHP’s) are a distinct group of practitioners who apply their expertise to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate people of all ages across health, education and social care. They work with a range of technical and support staff to deliver direct care and provide rehabilitation, self-management, “enabling” and health improvement interventions. In Scotland, the AHP group includes arts therapists, dietitians, occupational therapists, orthoptists, paramedics, podiatrists, prosthetists and orthotists, physiotherapists, radiographers (diagnostic and therapeutic) and speech and language therapists.

AHPs change

Visible, Accountable and Impact Orientated

We recently published a National Delivery Plan for the Allied Health Professions in Scotland that shared with Scotland our AHP strategic vision

“AHPs will work increasingly to transform well-being and recovery, promoting prevention, earlier diagnosis and reducing unnecessary referrals and admissions to hospital and care by working “upstream” and supporting early years development to strengthen user and carer capabilities and assets in the communities they serve”.

A key part of our delivery plan also invited AHPs to be more visible, accountable and impact orientated. This blog offers one way for AHP colleagues to be more visible for people with dementia, their families, carers and partners.  The blog aims to keep us talking about dementia and I am going to start this conversation by offering five reasons why Scotland needs allied health professionals as a key resource for people who use servise, their families and carers


Five Reasons why Scotland needs allied health professionals:

1. Allied health professions DO rehabilitation and reablement

AHPs are the only profession with rehabilitation expertise at the point of registration and importantly they bring this enabling perspective to the planning and delivery of services.  Rehabilitation and enablement are core elements in ensuring individuals can live meaningful and productive lives and allied health professionals are uniquely placed to exploit their expertise in “enabling” approaches through providing rehabilitation/reablement approaches and are bringing a fresh perspective to the integration agenda.

2.  Allied health professions CAN  save services money

Most people who use services want to live as independently in their own homes for as long as possible.  AHP interventions significantly reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital (through

AHP services being based in accident and emergency departments, for instance) and reduce dependency on care services (through integration of rehabilitation and homecare services) resulting in significant savings in health and social care.  As first-point-of-contact practitioners, AHPs also make a vital contribution to faster diagnostics and earlier interventions in primary care. They work closely with general practitioners and community teams to provide alternative pathways to secondary care referral and prevent admissions in areas such as falls prevention.

3. Allied health professions CAN improve your health and wellbeing

AHPs have a key contribution to make to the wider public health agenda, improving health and well-being by, for example, promoting physical activity and healthy nutrition, and return to work through vocational rehabilitation services.  AHPs, particularly local authority-based OTs, are core to defining, developing and reviewing person-centred goals for delivery by homecare teams: there is strong evidence that a partnership-based approach can reduce homecare hours by around 30% with true integration of community rehabilitation teams.

4. Allied health professionals PROMOTE supported self-management

AHPs are strongly placed to support self-management and enablement and drive integration at the point of care. They have an “enabling” ethos that is rooted in relationship based and  person-centred approaches. Their work sits in the spectrum between a “treatment-based” approach and a “care-based” model. AHPs have always worked across health and social care sectors and organisational boundaries to focus on the needs of people who use services, their families and carers. This will be central to delivering better outcomes through the evolution of integration across health and social care

5. Allied health professionals SUPPORT people with dementia to stay in their own home

AHPs have the expertise to support people with dementia, their families and carers to live well with the dementia through the promotion of supported self-management and provision of specialist functional assessment, rehabilitation, advice on environmental strategies and adaptations and support to carers. They are well positioned to lead on reablement, as well and early and post-diagnostic intervention.


The theme of this blog is “Lets Talk about Dementia” so I invite you to consider

What will you do to ensure that we keep talking about dementia”?


AHPS as agents of change in health and social care.  The National  Delivery Plan for the Allied Health Professions in Scotland  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0039/00395491.pdf



2 thoughts on “Why Scotland NEEDS Allied Health Professionals

  1. What an excellent blog. This is exactly the reasons AHPs are so valuable and unique. We should be proud to tell everyone what we do. Thank you Jacqui

  2. Pingback: Something old, something new | scothealthmonthly

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