- Grace N Gaisey
Enhancing Health and Social Care through Interprofessional Education
Beresford and Carr (2012) identified a service user as an individual who essentially receives an impeccable and person- centred care from a healthcare professional or service. Thus, using appropriate and evidence-based literatures, this essay will critically analyse and discuss how service users’ experiences are influenced through Interprofessional working. An introduction to what Interprofessional working is will be defined with brief discussion of the need for Interprofessional working. The essay will also have a critical discussion of two key points on how service users’ experiences are influenced through Interprofessional working.
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The key points consist of; more understanding of team, team roles and personality types-more positive experience for service users. Increased knowledge of other professional roles- ability to relate them to own role- understand of gaps and overlaps in service provision-increased ability to relate across professional boundaries. The essay will then conclude by looking at how Interprofessional working is essential in the delivery of service users’ outcome.
As explained by Day (2013), Interprofessional working occurs when healthcare professionals from diverse disciplines work together to identify needs, solve problems and make joint decisions on how best to provide an integrated care for the benefits of service users. As a result in making a difference, the Department of Health (DH) (2015) suggested that effective care is the product of Interprofessional working. This is because professionals working in collaboration give care which is designed to meet the needs of service users. This concept was further endorsed with the publication of The NHS Plan in the year 2000 (DH, 2015). The purpose of the plan was to create a service designed around service user needs, encouraging healthcare professionals to work together to meet the needs of service users, as lack of Interprofessional working can cause harm to service users. For instance, several researchers have shown that failure to collaborate and failure of communication between different healthcare professionals contributed to the death of Victoria Climbie (Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 2015). This highlights how Interprofessional working is essential and massively influences service users’ experience.
Coherently, government policies emphasises the need for effective Interprofessional working to provide optimal and safe service user care. Thus, as published in 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised that, Interprofessional working is an essential component in the satisfactory of service delivery as it enables the delivery of excellent care to service users. As a result, a key point to consider about the influence of service users experience through Interprofessional working is; it enables more understanding of teams, team roles and personality types which provides more positive experience for service users. This is for the reason that every professional have their own roles, skills and responsibilities that formulates efficient practice in curing, managing or treating specific ailments (Brumfitt & Baxter, 2011). This also allows healthcare professionals to identify a distinctive difference in, and to understand the roles and contributions of other healthcare professionals (MacDonald, 2011). Therefore, this influences service users experience as it is suggested that it contributes to patient safety and enhances the understanding of professionals’ roles (Vincent, 2012). Because these professionals working together will have the ability to collaborate effectively, and understand each other team roles to provide effective care for a service user.
A study by (Jones, 2011) states that when professionals from various disciplines collaborates, it facilitates better service user outcomes as they work as a group, and utilise individual skills and roles to generate an understanding and make decisions to reach the highest service user care standards. However, RCN (2014) proposed that if healthcare professionals do not work together and understand each other’s professional roles, it can compromise service users’ experience. This is because they need to manage the relationship with each professional and understand their roles in order not to compromise any clinical decision making (RCN, 2014). This was further concurred in a study by Zwarenstein, Goldman & Reeves (2011) proposing that Interprofessional working involves issues such as, lack of understanding of other professional roles and responsibilities that arises due to different healthcare professionals working together which can have adverse harm on service users. Thus, it is thought that understanding of roles within the healthcare professionals encourages team approach to service user needs where information and knowledge is shared to facilitate improved decision making regarding service user care (RCN, 2015).
Consequently, upon understanding each professional roles and working together, it enables them to provide a plan of care for the service user. This therefore influences services users experience as the care given will be individualised for their needs. A typical example would be an elderly care patient with diabetes who develops a pulmonary embolism while on the ward. The healthcare professionals that will care for this service user will be more aware and able to collaborate to provide a plan and develop their workforce to increase the safety of the service user. Thus, there will be collaboration between an endocrinologist, a respiratory physician, cardiologist, a diabetic nurse and a general nurse who will work together and understand each professional’s role to coordinate care to this service user as they all have different roles that will help in the service users’ recovery.
In addition, a study by Kenny (2013) disputed that Interprofessional working can be very challenging and not an easy thought for healthcare professionals to adopt. The author disputed that Interprofessional working is not being delivered to service users’ effectively due to healthcare professionals misunderstanding the policies and research regarding Interprofessional working. However, plans for improvement were recognized within the NHS Plan regarding effective Interprofessional working which was utilised to meet these challenges (DH, 2015). The NHS Plan for Interprofessional working recommended that healthcare professionals should collaborate effectively, understands each other’s roles, and communicate collaboratively to deliver a gold standard care to service users (DH, 2015). Hence, providing this plan was used in shaping the way in which Interprofessional working is viewed and adopted today by healthcare professionals (DH, 2014).
The second key point to consider on how Interprofessional working influences service users’ experience is; it increases knowledge of other professional roles, making it possible for individual professionals to relate them to their own role, and understanding of overlap in service provision, which influences service users’ experience. This is because it helps in gaining experience on how other healthcare professionals work, and leads to an enhancement of knowledge required to collaborate with other healthcare professionals in providing effective healthcare to service users (MacDonald, et al., 2011). For instance, this influences service user experience because upon healthcare professionals increasing their knowledge of other professional role creates the maintenance of professional boundaries. Though, a study by Nancarrow (2011) looked at the impact of care delivery on healthcare professional role boundaries. It was established that professionals of the Interprofessional team were not threatened by role overlap and that role overlap was usually undertaken. It was further suggested that this role overlap can have an effect on service delivery (Nancarrow, 2011). However, another study by Jones (2011) disputed on this belief. The author argued that this is why Interprofessional education and Interprofessional working was introduced to increase the knowledge of healthcare professionals, and for them to understand each other’s role and not carrying out tasks of other professionals to prevent role overlap.
As a result, this influences service users experience as healthcare professionals working together will respect each other and will not overstep their professional role amongst them (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2013). It also enables a healthcare provider to know when service users’ need referrals, and the right professional to be referred to. A study by MacDonald, et al., (2011) points out that there is no way an individual professional can deal with all determinants of service users’ health. It has to be a group of professionals with different knowledge base, different experiences with different roles and willing to learn from each other. As such, this creates the provision for healthcare professionals to be able to participate in shared team experience, which therefore enhances individual knowledge and the ability to relate them to their own role which consequently influences service users’ experience. An example will be a service user with Parkinson’s disease who is admitted on the ward due to a fall at home. This service user will be referred to a Parkinson’s specialist nurse, occupational and physiotherapist and a doctor to work towards on how best these service users’ needs will be met as an individual service provider cannot provide the care this service user needs on his/her own.
Conversely, research shows that this outcome is not always the case as healthcare professionals may be unclear not only about other professional roles, but also about their own role. Hence, an evidenced-based research by (Lowes & Hulatt, 2013) also shows that Interprofessional education was introduced in undergraduate nursing and other healthcare students to facilitate them gain insights into different healthcare professional roles, practice of collaborating team members, as well as the ability to relate to their own role. This influences service users’ experiences as these professionals working together are increasing their knowledge of other professional role in a directive way, putting service user at the heart of care and working towards their improvements.
Today’s service users have complex health needs and require more than one healthcare professional to address issues regarding their health needs. Thus, professionals from various disciplines working together and understanding each other roles can best communicate and collaborate together to address these complex needs to maintain service users health and improve their health outcomes while combining resources (Bridges, Davidson & Tomkowiak, 2011).
This essay has highlighted the need for Interprofessional working and how it massively influences service users’ experience. Upon writing the essay, it has increased my knowledge of the different professional roles within the healthcare profession and the value of these roles in relation to service users’ management. It has also enabled me to understand my own professional identity. Hence, as a soon to be nurse, this will be applicable to my own professional practice to ensure service users’ needs are met holistically.
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Royal College of Nursing. (2014). The impact and effectiveness on inter-professional education in primary care: an RCN literature review. London: RCN. Retrieve February, 21, 2015, from https://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/78718/003091.pdf.
United Kingdom: Department of Health (2015). Delivering high quality, effective, compassionate care: Developing the right people with the right skills and right values. London: DH
United Kingdom: Department of Health (2015). The NHS Plan: a plan for investment, a plan for reform. London: DH.
Vincent, C. (2012). Patient Safety. 2nd (ed.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
World Health Organisation. (2010). Framework for action in Interprofessional education and collaborative practice. Geneva: WHO.
Zwarenstein, M., Goldman, C., & Reeves, S. (2011). Interprofessional collaboration: effects of practice-based interventions on professional practice and healthcare outcomes. British journal of nursing, 33(4), 159-170.
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