Developing allied health professional support policy in Queensland: a case study. Human Resources for Health
Evidence suggests that professional support for allied health professionals contributes to improved clinical practice, better client outcomes, enhanced workplace satisfaction, increased workplace morale and better clinical governance within organizations. Despite these benefits, the uptake of formal professional support is surprisingly low and implementation often ad hoc. Further, research investigating the development, evaluation and outcomes of implementing policy to establish such support is limited.
Queensland Health has developed an organization-wide approach to supporting allied health professionals through a Professional Support Policy and guidelines. The processes of development, implementation and the evaluation framework of this State-wide Professional Support Policy are described. An evidence-based Professional Support Policy that is structured, collaborative and well evaluated will have benefits for allied health professions. However, policy introduction cannot occur in isolation. Current practice does not follow current evidence in the area of professional support implementation. This study describes a current practice baseline for participation prior to the mandating of such a policy. There is a need for improvements in participation rates, documentation and capacity building. A workforce policy with broad scope should increase the access to, and consistency of, professional support to allied health practitioners. Such policy should facilitate a higher quality clinical practice, better client outcomes, enhanced workplace satisfaction and morale. It may also maximize the recruitment and retention of allied health professionals. Mandating policy should see participation commensurate with that policy. A future step will be a Post Policy Implementation Review to determine the success and effectiveness of the Professional Support Framework within Queensland Health.