What Is Quality Assurance Program?
By Shona Hunter Quality Asurance Manager
What is a Quality Assurance Program and why is it beneficial for massage therapists? It’s a good question. Why should a massage therapist participate in a program committed to learning? Have they not already been trained in all the skills that are needed to treat their clients?
By Shona Hunter Quality Asurance Manager
What is a Quality Assurance Program and why is it beneficial for massage therapists? It’s a good question. Why should a massage therapist participate in a program committed to learning? Have they not already been trained in all the skills that are needed to treat their clients? The truth is that massage therapy is a continually evolving profession. There are always new modalities to learn, new treatment protocols to explore and yes, new rules and regulations to be followed.
A Quality Assurance Program helps make sure that no one is left behind. The goal for any Quality Assurance Program should be threefold:
1. Remediation to address any incompetence
2. Maintenance of competency
3. Enhancement of the profession
The Quality Assurance Program of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario has become one of the
cornerstones for protecting the public and ensuring that massage therapists provide quality care to their clients.
The program consists of three main parts. Each part is designed to help massage therapists maintain and enhance their ongoing competency and care of clients.
The self-assessment portion provides members with the opportunity to reflect on their practice and themselves as a massage therapist. The “Knowledge and Skills Inventory” was developed in 1999. It lists 25 competencies, both general and specific, to massage therapy. These competencies range from Business Acumen and Record Keeping to Anatomy and Massage Techniques. Therapists develop their own plans to address deficient areas. This is a form of self-remediation where the learning is self-directed and tailored to and by the individual therapist.
The continuing education requirement is a component of the program that encourages members to participate in ongoing learning. After all, what good is developing a learning plan without “payment” for following through? The Guidelines for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) lays out the requirements for Ontario massage therapists.
Peer assessment is a one-on-one review of a member’s practice. The key to the peer assessment process is the peer assessor. Peer assessors are massage therapists who go into other member’s practices to review how well that member is adhering to the College’s Standards of Practice.
Using a checklist based on the Standards of Practice and the Regulations of the Massage Therapy Act, 1991, the assessor reviews the physical practice space, the member’s professional portfolio and client files.
Throughout the assessment, the assessor provides the member with suggestions and advice on how to improve their practice’s adherence to the Standards.
Originally the thought of having an outsider review their practice was alarming to most massage therapists. There were fears that peer assessors could take away a member’s registration or that peer assessors were only there to find faults in how the member was practicing. In reality, the feedback the College has received has been almost universally positive. The advantage of a one-on-one encounter with a peer is the sharing of information directly relevant to the member’s practice situation. The assessment process allows the massage therapist to step back and look at their practice as a whole. Members also find that the review helps them identify areas for improvement and provides an immediate resource to get questions answered. More than one therapist has commented on their renewed enthusiasm for the profession after going through an assessment.
The report completed by the peer assessor is returned to the Quality Assurance Committee for review. With the majority of cases, the Committee is not required to follow-up with members on the results of the assessment, but occasionally the Committee will ask a member to either take a course or seek assistance to remediate a certain aspect of their practice.
In addition to the immediate feedback provided to the members, the information collected from the peer assessment process has assisted the Quality Assurance Committee in revising the College’s CEU guidelines, the Standards of Practice, and implementing guidelines to assist massage therapists in enhancing their practices.
What are the benefits of being involved with a Quality Assurance Program? Improvement in knowledge and skills, greater understanding of the regulatory environment and improved client care. Almost 80 per cent of our members include information they obtained from their CEU activities in their practice, and more massage therapists are using their peer assessment as an evaluation and learning tool. Massage therapists are becoming life-long learners and taking pride in their profession. No one is being left behind.
For more information on the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario’s Quality Assurance Program, please go to our website at www.cmto.com . Full details can be found under the Members / Quality Assurance Program section. You can also download a Self-Assessment Tool from the download section.