The value of innovation during a pandemic: Allied Health Cadets in Residential Aged Care

Ms Inga Alexander1, Ms Rebekah Deighton1, Ms Lucinda Craig1

1Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Rockhampton, Australia

An outbreak of covid-19 in a Nursing Centre resulted in the need to implement an innovative way to provide allied health services within a closed facility. Due to potential allied health workforce shortages, a decision was made to trial the use of Allied Health Cadet roles for the purpose of providing allied health intervention to prevent functional and cognitive deterioration and promote social engagement in a residential aged care facility.

Cadet roles whilst enabling consistent patient care, were a time intensive workforce model due to their novel level of experience. Communication was the most significant contributor to success, it also contributed to the model’s challenges. Defining and communicating the purpose of the role and the scope of practice was essential to enable care to be provided.
The model resulted in increased service provision, positive client feedback, cadet skill development and facilitated allied health intervention within a covid-19 response. Having trialled this new workforce model to enhance outcomes and opportunities we would recommend aligning the cadet tasks within their discipline, rather than having an multi-disciplinary focus, ensuring focused orientation and onsite an supervision model and refined task identification including appropriate l training and assessment tools to enhance outcomes and opportunities. We recommend the ongoing use of cadet roles, both in rapid response to a pandemic and have commenced exploring ways to use the role in it’s original as a training pathway as we grow our own workforce.


Inga Alexander is a senior occupational therapist who has experience in clinical and leadership positions across hospital and community settings, working in both government and private organisations. Inga currently holds the Occupational Therapy Clinical Education role for Central Queensland and Central West Hospital and Health Services. Rebekah Deighton is an occupational therapist and holds the Director of Allied Health position in Central Queensland Hospital & Health Service. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience with background in clinical and management positions across mental health, hospital and community settings. Lucinda Craig is a senior occupational therapist at the Rockhampton Hospital. She has a wide range of experience working in acute, sub-acute and community caseloads. The authors are all passionate about workforce and driving innovation particularly developing the student workforce to enhance patient care.

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