INTERPROFESSIONAL LEARNING IN PRACTICE
1st, March, 2012
The community recovery team comprises different professionals in the discipline of healthcare. All of these have professional skills and expertise required to work with people living in different communities, with severe mental health problems. In the meeting attended, the range of professionals included social workers, psychiatrist nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, occupational therapists, and approved mental health professionals. Others included psychotherapists, and peer support workers (Glen & Leiba 2002). The aim of the meeting was to assess the various social and health needs of the patients in selected communities, and the ways of meeting the identified needs through budgetary allocations. In addition, the team members were to contribute their views about various recovery interventions, which could be incorporated in the team’s practice, to enhance recovery.
During the meeting, I observed much, as far as teamwork and communication is concerned. There was the aspect of group dynamics, which I experienced, aspects of teamwork, and leadership. All these were essential in the way the facilitation of the meeting, and these contributed to the positive outcome of the meeting, since members were able to reach a conclusive standing on the agenda of the meeting. In addition, all the three aspects in the meeting were responsible for cohesiveness, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills among the team members (Procter & Mueller 2000).
One aspect of group dynamics is that, the team members interacted at different levels. This was necessary, since the meeting required vast brainstorming for ideas. Interaction helped members get into arguments, discuss important ideas by different members, and make important decision. During this group interaction, some members upset each other through the arguments; others showed support to fellow team members, while others in different disciplines taught each other new things in their field. Nonetheless, this was essential in helping reach a final decision (Forsyth 2006).
Teamwork among the group members in this meeting helped them accomplish difficult tasks together, which involved making decisions out of complex situations. In addition, through teamwork, the group members were able to work on the budget effectively, coming up with convenient and effective figures. Teamwork also enhanced cohesiveness in the group, and helped the group save the time needed to make decisions, and perform various tasks during the meeting (Forsyth 2006: West & Markiewicz 2004).
Leadership was essential in the meeting. In the meeting, there were facilitators, who ensured that the meeting stuck on the stipulated agenda and time schedule. This also helped in time management, as members did not veer off the meeting agenda. Each member also demonstrated leadership, as they were disciplined and focused on the theme of the meeting. Leadership is important in such a diverse group, since a sense of control is needed, considering the fact that this group is quite big, with people from different professional backgrounds. Therefore, leadership, if experienced at personal level and group level helps to enhance effectiveness of the meeting, and its outcomes (Armstrong & Stephens 2005).
Nonetheless, from this meeting, I learnt that when different people from various professional backgrounds work together in nursing, efficiency is achieved. Efficiency comes through teamwork, cooperation, and leadership, among others, which are aspects achieved when different focused individuals enter into collaboration (Furnaham A 2005). I also observed and learnt that, the individuals themselves can control the challenges that this approach presents, such as professional communication.
An occupational therapist (OT) is one of the professionals comprising a community recovery team, which has members from different professional backgrounds. Occupational therapists specialize in Occupational Therapy, a discipline in which they have earned a degree. Their main work is to deal with patients with cases of mental illness. These serve to ensure that the rehabilitation of patients, helping them to achieve full recovery, including social and occupational recovery. Generally, occupational therapists also assess the patients’ functioning in different areas such as social skills, or their ability to perform day to day tasks. In doing this, their main objective is to ensure that where there are gaps in the recovery process of the patient, they are able are able to notice and then develop various programs, which will address the needs of the patient, concerning their recovery. There is a variety of mental illnesses today. Therefore, an occupational therapist will play different roles, depending on the type of mental illness they are addressing in the patient (The American Occupational Therapy Association n.d).
As part of a community recovery team, an occupational therapist plays a variety of roles in the management of the care of a client diagnosed with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a type of mental illness, where the patient has false beliefs about being persecuted by people, or experiencing fear of the unknown, and feeling that unknown people are pursuing them, and plotting their death. In a community recovery team, an occupational therapist works in collaboration with other professionals in providing care and management to the schizophrenic patients. However, the occupational therapist performs most of the tasks, since they have adverse training in the area of management and care of mental illness patients. Occupational therapists have diverse scientific knowledge in managing psychosocial development, neurophysiology, environmental analysis, and group dynamics. These therefore, play a variety of roles in care and management of schizophrenic patients (The American Occupational Therapy Association n.d).
Occupational therapists will play the role of educating the schizophrenic patients on the importance of making use of coping strategies to reduce their symptoms. This is based on the knowledge of occupational therapists in consultancy, care therapy, and ability to perform academic facilitations. These will also support schizophrenic patients to be more organized and to participate actively in activities in which they are comfortable.
Occupational therapists, by virtue of being care therapists, will also serve the function of helping in the identification of habits, practices, routines, and rituals that are healthy for the schizophrenic patients, and which will enhance their recovery. In addition, occupational therapists will help the schizophrenic patients to identify priorities in their personal lives. This will depend on their needs, goals, and values in the life of the patients. However, with the knowledge of an occupational therapist, they will influence the patients to make decisions, which will affect their lives positively. For instance, an occupational therapist will advise their patients to consider housing and employment needs before any other needs. The occupational therapists will also hold sessions with different schizophrenic patients, either personally or at the group level. During such sessions, he or she will help patients to develop and utilize a wellness recovery plan for enhanced recovery (The American Occupational Therapy Association n.d).
An occupational therapist will play the role of educating the patients on how to embrace self-care. This includes ways in which the patients can monitor their state of physical health, such as quitting smoking, managing diabetes, grooming, and personal hygiene. In addition, the occupational therapist might provide information for the patients to make use of other health resources such as peer-facilitated groups, community-based resources, among other support groups for an enhanced recovery process.
Spending a day with an occupational therapist helped me learn much about occupational therapy, which I had no knowledge about before. The eight hours I spent with the occupational therapist gave me an opportunity to observe what their duties are, and generally, what the profession entailed. Occasionally, I would ask questions about the career, and about different practices, I could see them do, which were beyond my understanding. Nonetheless, I learnt that occupational therapy is not a profession for the faint-hearted, as it requires determination, dedication, and commitment.
The occupational therapist keeps time and reports early to her duties, since each day is different, and comes with new challenges. In the morning, around half past eight o’clock, the occupational therapist was already in her office. She started her day by organizing and managing the day’s activities. She explained that she does this either in the evenings, after the day’s work, or early in the morning, before embarking on the day’s activities. I saw her communicate with her colleagues and consult on a few things. She also checked her mails, faxed, and made copies of different documents. Then she tells me she is to establish the number of patients she would attend to on that day, including the length of their sessions. She also had to check on the gym area to ensure it is in a good state. She then holds a short meeting with other occupational therapists and nurses to discuss about any vital issue for the day, which would need addressing.
Most of the day, the occupational therapist was involved in providing direct care to patients. First, she started with the evaluation of the patients. After this, she wrote down the long and short-term plans for each patient. After this, she goes to begin the sessions with her patients. During the sessions with patients, she taught each of them different ways of taking care of themselves, like in the aspect of dressing, and personal hygiene, among others. Additionally, she offers physical therapy to the patients, such as exercises for flexibility and strength. At the end of the day, the therapist goes back to paperwork, while getting ready for the following day. She also assesses the progress of each patient, and consults with the other multidisciplinary team about the progress of each patient. However, she insisted that sometimes her schedule for the day changes, depending on the kind of patient she is dealing with, and the nature of their conditions.
From this job shadowing, I learnt a lot about occupational therapist. This profession requires individuals who are good at dealing with a variety of people. This is because; I witnessed the occupational therapist consulting with different colleagues on a variety of issues. Care and the well-being of patients in this context requires the attention of different professionals. This therefore, is not a job, which is to be done individually since cooperation is of essence. Therefore, an occupational therapist must be cooperative in order to perform well in their job. They should also be capable of dealing with different types of personalities and temperaments.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common problem among children and adolescents. These have learning, behavior, and emotional challenges. They have difficulty paying attention, some performance poorly in academics; others are involved in excessive activity, among others. In the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), different professionals address different mental problems affecting children and adolescents. After interviewing a service user diagnosed with ADHD, I learnt the different strategies employed by professionals in managing this service user. The first step in the service user’s treatment journey was extensive evaluation to determine the appropriate strategy that would be employed in management of the condition. Some of the management strategies used are psychiatric consultation, school consultation, child and family behavior therapy, and medication management. Coping tips are also provided to the service user, in order to help her cope with the condition well, for improved recovery.
Interprofessional working in health care has had a positive impact on the service user. First, there is shared professional competence and experience. In addition, the different professionals perform their responsibilities collectively. There is also interprofessional communication, and increased resource availability, in form of expertise. All these allow for a quick recovery of the service user. However, this can be improved by training the professionals on time management, since they consume much time, considering that they all have to attend to the service user (Leathard 2003). I learnt from the interview that the service user had consulted various professionals in the different stages since she started her recovery journey. These include adolescent psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, clinical and educational therapists, as well as language and speech therapists. All these were responsible for the different health needs of the service user.
The service user had the opportunity of inquiring about her health when the case co-coordinator met her family. During the brief meetings with her and her family, the case coordinator would inform them of her progress, and an opportunity would be given to her to ask any question about her care. Although the service user is happy with her recovery journey, she feels that the different professionals she has to see overwhelms her. She wishes that it would be possible for her to see only one professional. However, overall, the service user admitted to feeling some progress in her condition. She also likes the care she is given by the professionals, and considered them nurturing. As community psychiatric nurses, our role in the service user’s journey was elaborate. We visited her at home and in the clinic, and checked to see if everything was okay with her, ensuring she takes her medication as prescribed. Meeting the patient’s carers and family was also essential in helping them cope with the patient’s condition.
From the account of the service provider, I feel the health professionals are trying their best to provide the best services to their patients, as the service user did not complain of major problems with the care she was receiving, except for the number of professionals she had to see, which overwhelmed her. Generally, I feel good if a patient likes the care provided to her. Nonetheless, maybe a few adjustments could be made on the interprofessional aspect. In addition, the patients could be given more opportunities to find out about their carers and care given to them.
I have wide knowledge in the discipline of nursing. However, this exercise has increased my nursing knowledge. Nursing is a broad field, concerned with care giving to patients; Therefore, I have realized how much, interprofessional and multidisciplinary approach in nursing is of value. It is eminent that for effective care to be achieved in nursing there must be collaborations between different professionals, with each being charged with particular responsibility, which will help meet the needs of the patient. Today different professionals are encouraged to work together in order to help meet the health needs of patients appropriately (Jasper & Jumaa 2005).
In mental health nursing, it is also beneficial for different professionals to come together and pool in their expertise, for meeting patient needs in their recovery journey. Different professionals will perform specific roles, depending on their expertise. The recovery journey of any patient, including those with mental conditions, begins from assessment, then diagnosis, and finally treatment. Different professionals have different expertise to handle at least one stage of this process. Therefore, while some are responsible for assessment, others will do the diagnosis, and others will perform treatment. For instance, in the case of the ADHD service user, a specialist, who was a trained adolescent psychiatrist, performed the diagnosis. Other different professionals performed the other stages.
I have realized from this exercise that, interprofessional working in nursing has many advantages. There is collective responsibility, as each professional is charged with specific responsibilities to fulfill. In addition, there are sufficient resources to address patients’ health needs. These resources are mainly in the form of expertise. Therefore, a patient will not be referred to another clinic for other services. When professionals collaborate, they also share with one another their experiences in their professions. Therefore, one is able to increase their knowledge of different nursing aspects, thus increasing their knowledge capacity (Mental Health Commission 2006).
I have learnt that the multidisciplinary approach in nursing is as well important and resourceful. This promotes teamwork and efficiency in various nursing processes. For instance, in the meeting of the community recovery team, different health professionals gathered, with an aim of budgeting and making major decisions in the group, which they did as a team. Teamwork is advantageous, as it helps groups to complete tasks within a shorter period (West & Markiewicz 2004). This therefore, saves time, which is essential in nursing. As in the case of interprofessionalism, the multidisciplinary approach helps different professionals to interact, therefore, learning and gaining new knowledge from one another (Mental Health Commission 2006).
Although collaboration with many other professionals is beneficial in nursing, this also comes with considerable drawbacks. When there are many professionals from different backgrounds, it might be challenging for the group to make decisions within a short time. This is because each individual will come with his or her own idea, which they consider right, and it might take time deciding on what decision to settle for as the final one. However, this can be addressed appropriately if the group members employ appropriate leadership and strategies to combat this drawback of collaboration in nursing. Nonetheless, the nursing process is more effective with collaborations among different professionals. Therefore, despite the various challenges this approach might present, I would still support this approach, as it bears more benefits in nursing.
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