Trainee Rehabilitation Associate role in home and community support services
In 2011, Lavender Blue Nursing and Home Care Agency Ltd, with the support of HWNZ, established a demonstration to test the utility of the Trainee Rehabilitation Associate (TRA) role in their organisation.
The demonstration took place over a six month period between January and July 2011 with eight TRAs carrying out prescribed exercise and strengthening programmes with service users under the direction of a registered physiotherapist for the dual purposes of:
- maintaining and improving strength and balance for people receiving services from the trainee rehabilitation associates, thereby reducing the likelihood of service users increasing their home support weekly entitlement; and
- increasing job satisfaction and retention of those support workers who were trained and employed as TRAs.
The final evaluation report found that there was evidence of some improvement in both strength and balance among those participating in the demonstration however these gains were small and not clinically significant. It also concluded that the role TRAs fulfilled would be better described as an assistant rather than as an associate.
The evaluation found that more targeted programmes designed by physiotherapists and possibly occupational therapists may result in greater gains. The biggest advantage of this demonstration seemed to occur in terms of staffing with those staff participating as TRAs being very motivated to stay in the role.
The evaluation concludes that from this demonstration there is potential for gain by utilising staff to carry out exercise programmes under the direction of a physiotherapist and by possibly extending other programmes under the direction of relevant professionals (e.g. occupational therapists).
Following completion of the project Mid Central District Health Board has contracted with Lavender Blue to use these same workers in a further project focusing on discharge from hospital and if successful, they will look to tender this project in the future.
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