Allied health care is the broad range of health care services and professionals who are not a part of the medical, dental or nursing professions. In this current day and age, we rely on allied health professionals in many ways as they provide many useful services and skills that are outside of traditional healthcare. Some examples of allied health professionals include; physiotherapists, pharmacists, occupational therapists, dietitians and podiatrists.
In Australia, Allied Healthcare workers actually represent more than a quarter of the overall healthcare workforce and deliver an estimate of 200 million health care services on an annual basis.
So, what are the benefits of allied health? Here are the top reasons allied health care is beneficial to both individuals and the broader society:
Along with helping many other groups of people, allied health professionals provide critical support for people with disability and chronic illnesses, increasing their overall quality of life. One main profession that supports these groups of people are Occupational Therapists. Occupational therapy aims to help patients with disability or chronic illness to gain independence in their everyday activities. Without Occupational Therapists, people in these positions can feel isolated, dependant on others and are at risk of developing mental health issues.
When we think of allied health, it’s possible we think that these services are the less necessary type of health care, which is true to some extent. However, have you ever thought about where we would be without some allied health professions? For example; orthodontics is the speciality of dentistry that provides the diagnosis, prevention and correction of teeth and jaws. The world of orthodontics has opened doors for many people to have a healthier, comfortable and more attractive smile. Although many people view this field of health care as unnecessary, there is a reason so many young people undergo the journey of braces. The benefits that orthodontists provide to people are incredible and are not only superficial as some might think. For example; someone who undergoes braces may see not only an improvement of their teeth aesthetically, but also notice; an improved bite, less cavities, speech improvement and more.
Mental health care is a huge aspect of maintaining overall health, especially in people that deal with mental health issues. In Australia it is estimated that 45% of people will experience some kind of mental health condition in their life time. When people experience mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, their first step is usually to see a psychologist or counsellor for guidance and support. The fact that psychologists and counsellors fall under the allied health professions umbrella, just goes to show how important these people are in our health care systems.
The aim of all allied health services is to improve overall quality of life in patients. Whether it be a dietician assisting an overweight patient in weight loss, or a podiatrist providing orthotics to improve a patient’s lower back pain. All allied health professionals provide a service that can ultimately change our lives for the better.