• Developing an online qualification for O&P technicians

      Adam, Ian; British Association of Prosthetists & Orthotists (The Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association, 2020-10-08)
      Over the years the average age of technicians working within orthotics and prosthetics in the United Kingdom had increased and there was a requirement to recruit new staff. No nationally accredited qualification existed, and this was seen as a hinderance when trying to recruit the right type of candidate. Additional barriers included the associated costs of training, and the risk of losing technicians from the workplace while the technician was training. My aim was to develop a nationally accredited qualification that would provide employers with trained orthotic and prosthetic technicians for the future. I first contacted Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to gain a full understanding of the Scottish Qualifications Framework and which type of qualification would be suitable for technicians working in orthotics and prosthetics. I did research into methods of delivery of qualifications and which colleges had experience in these different types of delivery. I also spoke to the British Healthcare Trades Association to understand what the employers training needs were. Working with Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) we developed a 7-unit Personal Development Award. After this award had been approved, we worked with Glasgow Clyde College (GCC) using their existing Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) model to design a teaching package for the qualification. The nature of the VLE allows the candidates to undertake the qualification from their working location without having to travel to a central location. The candidate completes five mandatory units, submitting their assessments via the VLE direct to the college and receive feedback when required and assessment results. The candidate then choses two workplace units from a library of 12, the units are chosen depending on their employers’ requirements. Workplace assessors are used to assess the chosen units. All assessments are also checked by an external verifier. To date we have four cohorts of technicians, a total of 60 candidates, undertaking the qualification. The qualification takes approximately 18-24 months to complete. We would also hope to offer the qualification internationally through GCC as the VLE format is suitable for international candidates and SQA already award their qualifications internationally. Our qualification has been widely accepted by the profession and we have started to iron out the teething problems. We are reviewing the qualification and hope to gain ISPO approval in the next couple of years.