Jamming together – working with music therapy to extend the scope of practice for AHAs.

Lucy Whelan1, Greta DeVincentis1, Amy  Thomas1, Louise Britzman1

1Monash Health, Australia

Monash Health is an industry leader when it comes to Allied Health Assistants (AHAs) presently employing over 150. AHAs are visible and active across almost all Allied Health disciplines and clinical areas. Until 2016 there had not yet been an AHA working in the field of Music Therapy at Monash Health or nationally.

In 2016 a research project launched the first Monash Health AHA into the Music Therapy space, contributing to a collaboration between Parkinson’s Victoria, Monash Health and the University of Melbourne, called ‘Parkinsong’. A weekly program in the community, consisting of a singing group to support communication and wellbeing for patients and carers was led by music therapy, speech pathology and an AHA. This model has been translated to adult inpatients who have experienced stroke.

In 2018, a multidisciplinary AHA was appointed to Monash Children’s Hospital and has established a working relationship with Music Therapy. Music Therapy now integrate AHA support in group, individual sessions, and administrative work. To support and enhance patient goals, development of the multidisciplinary AHA role continues.

Both AHAs are working dynamically at Monash Health to create new pathways, new professional standards and establish the capabilities of AHAs in this area.

Research into the use of the AHA in Music Therapy has to date been limited, however Monash Health has begun a quality project to research the ways in which AHAs have collaborated with Music Therapy and expanded the AHA scope of practice This paper will present the results of a survey conducted to gather feedback from music therapists and AHAs. It will demonstrate how AHA support and collaboration has enabled music therapy to expand their service and allowed a greater capacity for the clinicians to work at the high end of their scope of practice, supporting a high standard of patient care.


Lucy Whelan is a Physiotherapist by background with a Masters Degree in Public Health and a career spanning over 15 years in Australia and the United Kingdom. She is currently forging the path for the Allied Health Assistant and Support workforce at Monash Health. She is passionate about quality driven improvement and appropriate governance for all. In order to align with their Allied Health colleagues and further expand and grow the roles of Allied Health Assistants, some large pieces of work are underway around Credentialing, Scope of Practice, Clinical Supervision, Professional Development, Referral/Delegation tools, Priority Tools and Students.

After completing her Dip Drama Louise worked as actor, singer, choir director, and singing tutor on a Bachelor in Performing Arts course for 16 years.  Louise became interested in Speech Pathology and after completing her AHA Cert IV she secured an AHA position with Speech Pathology, at the Kingston Centre, Monash Health.  During this time she was seconded by Music Therapy Monash Health to join a collaborative project measuring the therapeutic benefits of group singing for people with Parkinsons Disease. She also assists Music Therapy with a weekly therapeutic singing group, for Stroke patients, at Kingston Centre.

Amy Thomas is a music therapist with over 20 years’ clinical experience in a variety of populations across the lifespan and is currently the Head of Music, Art and Child Life Therapies at Monash Health. Amy has a strong interest in the clinical and professional development of arts therapies, particularly in service design and delivery for patient outcomes.

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