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The Role of Therapy Assistants in the Home Health Setting - Are they a "silent partner?"

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As I review the educational content from CSM2015 and prepare for CSM2016 as the Home Health Section's Program Chair (SPC), I realize the under representation of therapy assistants in attendance at CEU courses I either attend or even provide at national, state and private agency events is real. This does not appear to be representative of the number of therapy assistants (PTAs, COTAs) that are providing care in the home health environment. Could this pose an area of risk for your organization??

So, is this problematic and does it need to be addressed? Looking at the auditing, fraud & abuse, as well as quality outcomes environment we clinicians currently practice in, the potentially "under-educated" therapy assistant can increase the risk an organization carries if (or should it be "when"?) scrutinized by outside entities. Let's face it....there is no relaxing the near stranglehold auditing and denials place upon our industry looking in to the foreseeable future. Development of an across-the-board standard for proficiency in documentation and competency in use of objective tests is not reserved for the qualified PT, OT or SLP!

The APTA understands this and is changing with the times. The House of Delegates will be addressing three (3) motions put forth from APTA's Board of Directors relevant to PTAs. These motions address the ability of a PTA member to serve in a non-officer position on the Board, allowing chapters to amend bylaws for PTA members to count as a full (rather than current 1/2) vote, and allowing chapters to amend bylaws to allow PTA members to serve as chapter delegates. I support these motions and urge each of you to find out more about it by visiting http://www.apta.org/HOD or join the HUB community on the APTA website open to all members. If your not a member, now is the time to join! 

Cindy and I were recently asked by PhysicalTherapy.com to provide some therapy assistant-specific educational content. We jumped at the chance to shine a light on this faction of our industry! If you are interested in finding out more about this, please check this 2-part series out at: Click here

Therapy assistants can serve in a variety or agency roles, including being a member of the marketing, quality assurance / performance improvement and auditing departments.

I have always worked alongside therapy assistants during my 30-year professional career. It has been my experience that a well-educated therapy assistant can be an invaluable asset to any organization, especially home care agencies. Don't assume that PTs and OTs have the time, inclination or professional responsibility to ensure therapy assistants working with them meet proficiency and competency standards. The nature of our work setting is prohibitive of collegial sharing and discourse more so than any other in the post-acute industry. Engage, include and educate this component of your therapy workforce to achieve the quality outcomes and defensible documentation you desire!

Kornetti & Krafft Health Care Solutions is dedicated to meeting the needs of this arm of the therapy services to home care clients. Check out our cost effective educational webinar opportunities for all your clinicians today!!

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