Training in Assistive Products Pilot Report

World Health Organization
June 1, 2019
Case Studies and Reports

Executive summary

1. Introduction to TAP

Training in assistive products (TAP) is an open access online learning platform, developed in response to 
the widespread shortage of personnel trained to provide assistive products (AP). TAP intends to equip 
primary/community health and other community-level personnel to provide a range of simple AP, selected 
from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Priority Assistive Products List (APL) 1. The training modules 
teach a ‘four step’ approach for the safe and appropriate provision of these selected AP. During the 
development of TAP, modules are being piloted in different contexts around the world.

2. Pilot overview

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) pilot was carried out in June 2019, in collaboration with the National 
Department of Health (NDOH) Health Facilities Standards Branch, National Capital District Community
(NCDC) Health Services, Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) Eye Clinic and the National Orthotics and 
Prosthetics Service (NOPS). The pilot focused on understanding and drawing lessons about:

  • TAP effectiveness in enabling personnel to acquire knowledge and skills to provide AP
  • The effectiveness of the TAP platform considering usability, accessibility, content and learning methods
  • TAP implementation, including identifying relevance, feasibility and success factors.

Five modules were included in the pilot: Introduction to assistive products; Introduction to vision; Magnifying 
glasses and telescopes; Reading glasses, and Walking aids. A total of 19 personnel from NCDC Kaugere 
Health Clinic and NOPS completed modules during allocated work time over two weeks. This was followed 
by a number of evaluation activities including consultations, focus groups with participants and their 
managers, role play and supervised practice. Data collected throughout the pilot was then analysed to inform 
learning for both the TAP development team and PNG stakeholders. 

3. Conclusions and lessons

The pilot provided confidence that TAP modules have good potential to increase knowledge, in preparation 
for learners to begin provision of simple AP. The pilot also confirmed that learners will in most instances 
require supervised practice to achieve safe and effective competency in AP provision. This is an important 
consideration in the roll out of TAP, as it requires availability of personnel with relevant skills to mentor and 
supervise new learners. This also highlights the importance of including guidance for supervisors in TAP. 
The response to TAP from participants, their managers, and senior health personnel was positive, and 
reinforced findings from the first TAP pilot: that health service providers recognise a high need for AP 
amongst service users; and see provision of simple AP as an appropriate task for nurses, primary/community 
health workers and related workforce. Participants also gave valuable feedback to strengthen elements of 
module content, as well as to improve the platform’s usability and accessibility. The pilot was also valuable 
in highlighting the resourcing constraints experienced by many health personnel, and the impact this may 
have on the implementation of TAP. Practical barriers to TAP implementation were identified including limited 
access to internet, tablets and printers; availability of supervisors; competing priorities; and a need for dedicated time to focus on training within busy clinic schedules. These are all factors to be considered as  TAP is further developed and rolled out. 

This pilot activity also provided the PNG NDOH with an opportunity to build on their existing work in 
increasing access to AP through PNG’s health system. In particular, to explore the potential to introduce 
basic level screening for AP, and provision of selected simple AP through health clinics. Post pilot, there has 
been continuation of vision screening and provision of reading glasses at Kaugere Health Clinic, as well as 
a collaborative initiative between the Kaugere and NOPS to provide mobility device services. The TAP team 
look forward to continuing to learn from these very positive initiatives as they progress.