Posted by: ayrshirehealth | November 30, 2012

Allied Health Professionals (AHP’s) can do … by @elaineahpmh

AHP’s can …

I am delighted to be a “guest” blogger for #ayrshirehealth and I am the last in a “November fest” of AHP blogs.   Deciding what to include in a blog is always a challenge, who will read this? what would people want know?  But the freedom of a blog is, I can decide. After much contemplation, I decided to focus this blog on a couple of “AHP’s can do” messages that I have shared during a number of recent presentations on the theme of AHP’s being leaders of transformational change.

In writing this blog I am drawing on my role as a strategic and professional leader for allied health professionals during a four year secondment to the Mental Health Division, Scottish Government.

My role for the last four years was to integrate allied health professionals into mental health policy and delivery and in short the outcome was Realising Potential (Scottish Government, 2010)

 AHP’s can …. contribute to the policy agenda

The implementation of policy and evidence into practice is a long standing interest of mine which I know is an interest not always shared by others. However a useful reference I have shared in presentations is the article by Gough (2009)  called “What is policy?”

In this article she describes the work by Walt (2005) who tries to simplify what is a complex process as a cyclical framework.

I use this model with AHPs to reflect on “what is the problem  policy is trying to solve?” and “what are the key skills AHP’s have to enable them to be part of the solution to the problem?”

Gough also writes about building a “policy” capability for both nursing and AHP’s which maybe of interest to some reading this blog.

AHP’s can …. be engaging leaders

We know policy alone does not change practice and one key is leadership. Realising potential has given AHP’s in mental health an opportunity to build a leadership culture. I work with AHP’s who engage in implementing Realising Potential, not because they have to, but because they want to.

We now have a group of AHP mental health leaders who have all stepped up to this leadership opportunity. At times this has been challenging and they have had to be tenacious to be heard, to try to change perceptions with the ultimate goal of improving AHP practice for the people who use the services. But we also know that leadership is not for one professional group only and the benefits of local multi-disciplinary and multi-agency leadership is also critical which is why I am delighted to be part of this #ayrshirehealth blog – for me this is “walking the walk” of #teamwork.

*picture courtesy of @docandrewmurray

AHP’s can …. lead change using appreciative, powerful questions

To create the changes in AHP mental health practice we used the principles of appreciative enquiry (Whitney et al 2008) and powerful questions (Vogt et al 2008). The “powerful questions” focussed on the key themes in Realising Potential. The AHP mental health leads have used the powerful questions principles with a range of stakeholders including people who use the service and chief executives, asking them:

  • what would it mean to service users if timely access to AHP services was available?
  • what would it mean to service users if AHP’s delivered evidence based psychological interventions to support rehabilitation, self management and recovery approaches?
  • what would it mean to service users if AHP’s worked from a recognition of the importance of work in promoting recover?
  • what would it mean to service users if there was a set of national outcome measure that all AHP’s used in every day practice?

Using powerful questions, by the AHP Mental Health Leads, has been captured in an article by Mickel (2012) on “powerful questions, powerful results” and would be an interesting follow up to this introduction in this blog.

Transferable skills

Two months ago I started a new AHP strategic leadership role in partnership with Scottish Government and Alzheimer Scotland, @alzscot. I am based in Alzheimer Scotland and they are the leading voluntary organisation in Scotland helping people with dementia and their carers and families. My new role will focus on bringing together, in partnership, the strengths of allied health professions in both health and social care in Scotland to assist in the delivery of the Dementia Strategy, Alzheimer Scotland’s Strategic Plan and the AHP Delivery Plan.

I will take my own “AHP’s can do” messages with me and transfer my learning to this new and developing role in Alzheimer Scotland. I would welcome any comment you have on this blog and or you can follow how my  new role develops by following me at @elaineahpmh or on

Next week:

@bettyGudrun, a Senior Social Worker, write her very first blog “Care and Control”


Gough P  2009  CURUM Scotland Cares  Scottish Government 26-27

Mickel A  2012  Powerful questions powerful results OT News August 26-27

Scottish Government 2010 Realising Potential An action plan for allied health professionals in mental health

Walt G 2005 Health Policy: an introduction to process and power London Zen books quoted by Gough 2009

Whitney D  Trosten-Bloom A  Rader K  2008  Appreciative Leadership Get Results with Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Power McGraw-Hill books

Vogt EE  Brown J  Isaacs D  2003 The Art of Powerful Questions Catalyzing Insight, Innovation and Action


  1. […] you can’t wait until then to read an AHP blog then click here to find out what do AHP’s do in mental […]

  2. […] Allied Health Professionals (AHP’s) can do …  by Elaine Hunter on the Ayrshire Health blog. […]

  3. […] NHS Priority, or Political Folly? There also some big questions in Elaine Hunter’s post – Allied Health Professionals (AHP’s) can do … – on the Ayrshire Health […]

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