"Our vision is that by 2020 everyone is able to live longer healthier lives at home or in a homely setting.
"The demands for health care and the circumstances in which it will be delivered will be radically different in future years. We must be bold enough to visualise the NHS that will best meet the needs of the future in a way that is sustainable and make the changes necessary to turn that vision into reality."
(A 20:20 Vision, Scottish Government 2011)
At September 2011, there were approximately 10,000 AHPs working across Scotland in health and social care settings: 95% were in health care and the 546 practitioners in social care were occupational therapists (OTs) who, despite comprising only 1% of the total social care workforce, addressed 35% of all adult referrals.
Scotland's AHPs are already working at the leading edge of a paradigmatic shift towards enablement, promoting an asset-based approach, self-management, resilience and independent living and preventing over-reliance on hospitals and professional intervention.
AHPs are the only professions expert in rehabilitation at the point of registration. Their expertise in rehabilitation and enablement will be key to supporting the vision of health and social care integration and delivering on the National Outcome Framework.
Reducing inappropriate admissions and unnecessary care costs are key to affordable and sustainable services in the future. AHP interventions can significantly reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital and reduce dependency on care 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 GPs and community teams to provide alternative pathways to secondary care referral and prevent admissions in areas such as falls prevention and musculoskeletal services.
AHP directors and leaders, working across health and social care, will be key to enhancing the AHP contribution to the joint planning and delivery of services, particularly for those with complex needs, long-term conditions, dementia and for children and young people.
The National AHP Delivery Plan will call for AHPs to be more visible, accountable and impact orientated. It will align the AHP focus on activity with the National Outcome Framework currently in development and will reflect the context of health and social care integration.
Better measurement and data collection will be required to support AHPs in contributing to the delivery of these national outcomes, to underpin improvement and to strengthen efficiency and productivity.
Modern and flexible working practices (including exploiting technology) and implementation of Releasing Time to Care will be key to efficient and effective service delivery built around the needs of people who use services and to realising capacity within existing resources.
Email: Susan Malcolm