Assigning Tasks to a PTSW

Assessment of Risk When Assigning a Task to a Physical Therapist Support Worker (PTSW)

Physical therapists often work with physical therapist support workers (PTSWs) who provide physical therapy services to clients under supervision. Physical therapists are accountable for client care and for supervision of the PTSW. They are expected to assess the competence of the PTSW and to consider the level of risk of the task being assigned before formally assigning the task to a PTSW, in accordance with the Practice Standards, especially Practice Standard 18 (Supervision) (PDF) and Practice Standard 8 (Documentation and Record Keeping) (PDF).

A few things to keep in mind when assessing the level of risk:

  • Risk requires consideration of many aspects of your practice:
    • The status of the client – stable/predictable or unpredictable
    • The competence / experience of the PTSW, including with the particular task you are considering for assignment. They may have many years of experience with some clients or on a different unit, but limited experience with this particular client or on this particular unit.
    • Your own competence / experience with this particular PTSW, this particular client, this unit, the particular task you are considering for assignment.
    • The level of supervision of the PTSW required (direct / indirect) and your availability to provide that level of supervision.
  • The algorithm below has been designed to help physical therapists through the decision-making process as they consider the risks in assigning a task to a PTSW.


Published: April 1, 2019