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Therapy assistants

Therapy assistants provide additional support to your child under physiotherapy direction

Who are therapy assistants? 

Our therapy assistants are playful, professional, dedicated people who love supporting children and young people to develop functional skills, to help them participate in everyday life. 


They can come from varied backgrounds. 

  • physiotherapy students

  • Allied Health Assistants in special schools

  • Swimming teachers

  • Inclusion Support Assistants

  • People who have completed Cert IV Allied Health Assistance and have relevant experience

All of our physiotherapists and assistants are trained and accredited as ASCTA swimming teachers. 

What do therapy assistants do? 

  • Therapy assistants work under the direction and supervision of a lead allied health professional.

  • They participate in joint sessions with each child / young person’s physiotherapist to get to know you and your child / young person, and how to meet their learning needs. They follow a prescribed program designed to meet the individual’s needs.

  • This is monitored and updated by the physiotherapist.

  • They can work in land based sessions (eg. a home program working on learning to sit up, or developing soccer skills ready to join a community team) or aquatic sessions. As always at Splash, our aquatic sessions can work towards your land based goals, and / or swim safer goals.​

When do therapy assistants work with children and young people at Splash Physiotherapy? 


These are our main scenarios where our therapy assistants work with children and young people. (However if you have another idea or need, let us know and if we can we will be happy to help!) 

Therapy assistants work under the direction and supervision of a lead allied health professional.


Our physiotherapists work with your child one - on - one, develop goals and treatment strategies to meet your child's specific learning needs, in a block of therapy.

Therapy assistants may then be involved in: 

  • continuing with a home based program set up by a physiotherapist, with ongoing physiotherapy review

  • continuing with an aquatic program at a community based pool, set up by a physiotherapist, with ongoing physiotherapy review eg. Some children in middle to late primary school or high school have been given NDIS plans for physiotherapy assessment, treatment, and to set up an ongoing aquatic program for an assistant to deliver, with regular ongoing monitoring by the physiotherapist over the course of the plan. It is important that sufficient physiotherapy hours are included to allow for safe and effective sessions to be developed and adjusted to meet the individuals' needs over the year. 

  • inclusion support swimming: providing one - on - one support to an individual WITHIN a group swimming lesson, to support their active participation and learning within the swim lesson, modifying activities, and adding supports to meet the individual’s learning needs, as prescribed by the physiotherapist (see our 'Pathways to swimming' page for more information)

  • Inclusion support sport and leisure: providing one - on - one support to an individual WITHIN a group activity (eg. soccer practise, ballet class, bike riding at the park), to support their active participation and learning during the lesson. The assistant modifies activities, and adds supports to meet the individual’s learning needs, as prescribed by the physiotherapist

  • Accessing swimming pools for children and young people: providing one - on - one support for an individual to access a local community pool, complete activities prescribed by a physiotherapist, for leisure, exercise or to develop swim skills.

What's the difference between a physiotherapist and an assistant then? 


Physiotherapists are skilled at carefully understanding your needs, using formal and informal assessment and clinical reasoning to develop treatment plans, re - evaluating throughout therapy sessions to ensure the ‘just right’ challenge is being provided moment to moment. They are also able to coordinate care where there are complex needs, identify needs for referrals or equipment and  arrange trials and prescription. 


Therapy assistants work under supervision and direction of the physiotherapist, following through with a set program. They are not able to make alterations to the program or address any new issues that arise. Our assistants are ASCTA qualified swimming teachers, and can progress your child’s skills within a boundary prescribed by the physiotherapist.They require ongoing monitoring and reassessment from a physiotherapist to update the program to meet your child’s needs as they work towards their goals. 


What funding can be used to access therapy assistants?


Splash Physiotherapy families can access therapy assistant support through discussion with their physiotherapist. (If you are new to use, please contact us to discuss your needs)

See more information about working with us under the NDIS here


We are also able to provide this service privately. 

What is the process for working with a therapy assistant at Splash Physiotherapy? 

1. Assess and develop goals

Your allied health professional at Splash completes your initial assessment, risk management assessment, and develops goals with you as usual. 

2. Therapy sessions to develop a plan for the assistant that meets your individual learning needs

Your allied health professional needs some therapy sessions to develop a plan for the therapy assistant to work towards your goals, including identifying specifics on the learning style to be used, how to facilitate communication, play, and self regulation for each activity. The number of sessions needed here depends on each individual child / young person. 

3. Prescribe a program for the assistant

Your allied health professional writes up a detailed prescribed program from the therapy assistant to complete. Therapy assistants are only able to follow programs set by an allied health professional. They are sometimes able to make small progressions if they are specified in the plan, but are generally not able to make any changes without review from the allied health professional.

4. Joint sessions with the therapy assistant and allied health professional

Therapy assistants participate in joint sessions with the lead allied health professional to

  • get to know the family and child / young person

  • understand how to meet the individual's learning needs

  • individualise risk management throughout a session

  • demonstrate they are able to meet the individual's learning and risk management needs in each activity on the program

5. Therapy assistant sessions

Therapy assistants work with the child / young person and your family as planned, consulting with the lead allied health professional regarding any issues, or if an activity is too difficult or easy. Sometimes the plans can be modified through discussion, other times the lead allied health professional needs to come to a joint session to review. ​

6. Monitor, review, report

The lead allied health professional monitors the notes documented by the therapy assistant, and reviews in person at an interval agreed to with the family. If required, they also write your report at the end of your funding block advising on how the process went, which goals were achieved and how, and future plans. 

So you still need an allied health professional involved for therapy assistant services? 


Therapy assistants legally work under the supervision of an allied health professional, following a prescribed program, and are not able to make any changes to that program. 

The allied health professional is responsible for monitoring and updating the program. As each child/ young person progresses, they will need more challenging activities in their program, or may need to work towards new goals. As difficulties arise, their program will need to be altered. 

As you can see, working with a therapy assistant still requires allied health professional hours. The longer you work with an assistant, the fewer professional hours are required in comparison, as the initial development of a program to work towards your goals takes the longest.


This is different to when a support worker or carer is being trained in how to support a child / young person to ride a bike or access swimming, which often takes only a few sessions. In those situations there is a very defined goal (eg. a support worker being able to safely support bike riding for leisure and maintenance of health). That is different to working towards capacity building goals to improve function and participation in every day life. 

Unfortunately some families have been given funding with very few allied health professional hours compared to many therapy assistant hours. If we do not feel we are able to provide a safe and effective service to your child / young person due to insufficient allied health professional hours, we will advise you of this. 

Physiotherapy Assistant News

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