Allied Health Assistant (AHA) led exercise before Physiotherapy assessment was safe and feasible in a Geriatric Evaluation Medicine (GEM) service: A pilot trial

Ms Melanie Haley1, Ms  Kate Kerrigan1, Ms Susan Sheerin1, Ms  Annamaria Golder1

1Eastern Health, Box Hill , Australia


Aim: To examine if direct AHA management before physiotherapy assessment was safe and feasible for patients on a GEM ward that was co-located with acute wards at a metropolitan hospital.

Method: All patients who were admitted to GEM and were recommended AHA intervention by the physiotherapist from the acute ward during the trial period were eligible to be seen directly by the AHA prior to assessment by the GEM physiotherapist. Patients were excluded if more than 48 hours had passed since the recommendation by the acute AHA was documented.

Outcomes included (1) safety using the Victorian Health Incident Management system (VHIMS) and (2) patient and staff acceptability of AHA and physiotherapy management using open ended survey questions compared to usual care.

Results: Eleven patients admitted to the GEM ward received AHA intervention before physiotherapy assessment. No VHIMS were recorded or adverse outcomes identified for participants in the trial.  There was no difference in themes identified when comparing patient acceptability with the usual model of care, with both models of care generally well-received.

Significance of the findings to allied health: AHA management prior to physiotherapy assessment was feasible and safe for a GEM ward that was co-located with acute wards. Increased AHA intervention has the potential to increase participation in physical activity during hospital stay and improve patient functional outcomes post discharge.


Melanie Haley is an Aged and Complex Care physiotherapist at Eastern Health.  She has completed her Masters in Gerontology at La Trobe University, including a minor thesis on frailty in the sub-acute setting.  She is a current member of the Safer Care Victoria Care of Older People governance committee and has research interests in prevention of hospital functional decline, frailty and delirium.