Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) can be an effective tool to facilitate collaboration between professionals and hence improve care outcomes. However, without strong organisation the impact may be negative rather than positive, a new report from the Social Care Institute for Excellence has said.
Among its recommendations for successful MDT working, SCIE includes the following factors:
- Clear purpose: MDTs need a defined role that requires team members to interact across professional and disciplinary boundaries.
- Institutional support: the organisations which employ staff and (if in place) the partnership bodies overseeing this area of collaboration must provide support. This should include pubic endorsement (and so legitimacy), ensuring that the MDT has the necessary resources, and developing integrated performance systems.
- Team leadership: leaders should generally be facilitative in their approach to encourage different contributions, but be directional when necessary. An awareness of team dynamics and a willingness to challenge poor collaborative practice are important competences for a team leader.
- Collaborative opportunities: teams must have physical space and time for their members to engage across professions and disciplines. This enables them to improve communication and better understand each other’s roles and resources.
- Person-centric: there is a danger that teams can become too inwardly focused on their own functioning. This can lead to people and their families feeling more, rather than less, excluded from discussions about their care.
- Role diversity: there is no magic formula for MDTs. Rather, the mix of professions and practitioners must respond to the needs of the population concerned while still being small enough to allow members to know each other.
- Evidence focused: teams require timely and accurate evidence of their shared impact. Structured opportunities for teams to reflect on this evidence is one of the most impactful means to strengthen their work.