Delegation models in dysphagia management: Current policy, clinical perceptions and practice patterns
Maria Schwarz , Elizabeth C. Ward , Petrea Cornwell & Anne Coccetti
Purpose: Delegation to Allied Health Assistants (AHAs) is an effective workforce solution in a number of areas of adult speech-language pathology (SLP) practice. However, reports of AHA delegation in the area of dysphagia management are limited. The aim of this study was to synthesise information from policy documents and current clinical practice to examine the nature of AHA delegation in dysphagia management.
Method: A mixed method design involving a document review of 13 policy documents on AHA delegation, and a survey of 44 SLP managers regarding current delegation models.
Result: Policy and current practice were largely congruent. Despite policy support for AHA delegation, 77% reported using delegation models but only 26% used them fairly often/very often in dysphagia management. Both policy and survey findings support AHA training prior to task delegation, however, the nature of training was unspecified. Good governance is integral to successful delegation and managers recognised the need to increase standardisation of AHA capability assessment.
Conclusion: AHA delegation in dysphagia management is supported by policy and is being implemented in clinical services. However further work detailing governance and training requirements is needed, as well as systematic evaluation of the safety and benefits of these models.