Chief Allied Health Professions Advisor for the Welsh Government (Ruth Crowder)
Deputy Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England (Linda Hindle OBE)
Good work – a safe and secure job with good working hours and conditions, supportive management and opportunities for training and development – has a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Unemployment, by contrast, is associated with an increased risk of mortality and morbidity.
So good work is good for health – as well as providing the means for food, housing and other essentials, our jobs themselves can provide psychosocial support – a sense of purpose, identity and a community.
RSPH’s latest resource makes the case for how Allied Health Professionals’ skills can ensure that work supports wellbeing. Through surveying over 1,000 AHPs across the UK and collecting case studies of AHP-led initiatives, RSPH has identified the key opportunities they have to influence the work and health agenda. These include:
- Supporting the development and educational outcomes of children and young people, including those with special educational needs and thereby increasing their opportunities for fulfilling employment
- Supporting people with mental and/or physical health conditions or disabilities to find suitable employment or to return to work after an illness or injury
- Making work environments suitable for people with health conditions or disabilities
- Working in occupational health services or specialist vocational rehabilitation services
- Running health promotion initiatives or delivering services within workplaces
- Designing work environments that encourage healthy behaviours and minimise risks to health
By working in these areas, AHPs can often improve people’s outcomes through providing early interventions, identifying and addressing people’s needs holistically, supporting a person-centred approach to rehabilitation, giving people tools to self-manage their condition, and taking a population-level approach. This, in turn, brings benefits to businesses and the wider economy.
Recent initiatives, like expanding the use of the Fit Note to Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists, suggest there is increasing recognition of AHPs’ part in the health and work agenda. One of the most encouraging findings from RSPH’s research was that nearly 3 in 5 of AHPs surveyed wanted to be more involved in that agenda.
There is an opportunity to amplify the impact AHPs have on the work and health agenda by further:
- Increasing the skills and confidence of all AHPs to have conversations about work and health.
- Improving connections between Allied Health Professionals and other services / professions with a role in work and health.
- Developing AHPs’ capacity to deliver work and health interventions
- Developing AHP roles in the creation of healthy workplaces
We hope this report and the associated web resource from RSPH will be of interest to policymakers, employers, funders and commissioners as well as AHPs themselves.