The Perceived Physiotherapy-Related Training and Support Needs of Educational Assistants

Heather Robertson

Purpose: To explore the perceived, physiotherapy-related, training and support needs of Educational Assistants (EAs), who work with students who are physically dependent.

Method: A mixed-methods sequential explanatory design used a survey and a focus group. The survey findings provided structure for the focus group discussion. All voluntary participants worked for one public school district in British Columbia.

Findings: Eight EAs participated in the survey and four in the focus group. Overall, three unmet needs for EAs were identified: (1) education in foundational healthcare topics like motor development, equipment prescription theory, and medical conditions, (2) information presented in varied formats to match the situation and individual learning preferences, and (3) support in overcoming barriers to safe lifting.

Conclusion: Physiotherapists have a role in meeting the training and support needs of EAs as they implement physiotherapy-related tasks and programs. This study provides preliminary knowledge and recommendations to help meet these needs.