Promoting and achieving excellence in the delivery of Integrated Allergy Care: The European Academy of Allergy & Clinical Immunology competencies for allied health professionals working in allergy
Clinical and Translational Allergy , Volume 8 - Issue 1
The multi-disciplinary team approach is an effective model for patient care. Allied health professionals (AHPs) are an important part of such teams, bringing specific knowledge and skills related to the target patient population. The AHPs most often involved in allergy care are nurses and dietitians. Nurses are often involved in the care of patients with all types of allergy and also with asthma, whilst allergy-specialist dietitians provide vital nutritional and dietary support for the diagnosis and management of food allergy. There are many other AHPs who have a role to play in allergy care, including physiotherapists, psychologists, pharmacists and speech therapists, and their involvement is likely to develop as allergy care becomes more rooted in the community. With the development of multi-professional teams comes the requirement for disease-specific knowledge and skill sets, with all allergy team members required to have baseline knowledge and competency of the condition being managed. Whilst some competencies for AHPs practising in other disease states have been published, none are available for allergic disease against which AHPs can be benchmarked. The European Academy of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (EAACI) recognised this need, and supported the establishment of a Task Force to develop allergy-focussed competencies for AHPs. The varied skills, expertise and professional background of the Task Force members enabled the creation of a set of allergy competencies relevant to all AHPs working in allergy. It is recognised that the training and allergy expertise of AHPs, and their role within the allergy setting, will vary considerably depending on the country. However, it is important for patient care, that all AHP involved in allergy services have access to training, of a sufficiently high enough level to be aspirational and enable the continued growth and development of a wide range of allergy services, given the increasing need. The EAACI competencies will provide an important benchmark for allergy knowledge and skills against which education and training can be designed and health care professionals can subsequently be measured. However, more importantly, the EAACI AHP allergy competencies will enable the development and reach of specialist allergy services, with allergy-specialist AHPs undertaking key roles, especially in the community care setting.