Inter-professional practice includes benefits that help to improve the provisions of health and social care services. One of these benefits that derive from inter-professional practice is that it increases the number of professions, which means that all aspects of service users who have multiple needs requiring different specialists are taken into consideration rather than neglecting some aspects. E.g. an individual who was a victim of domestic violence and had sustained physical injuries would not only receive treatment for the physical injuries but also receive counselling for their emotional needs so that they are healed holistically.
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By increasing the number of professions also allows health and social services to be able to deal with complexity. This is because of the different qualifications, skills, knowledge and expertises each professional has which not only reduces workload creating less stress but make difficult tasks achievable. Likewise errors made by some professionals can be quickly identified and rectified by others reducing risks towards patients/users e.g. a physiotherapist may fail to provide treatment to a patient which a nurse can pick up on.
Professional roles in relation to health and social care provision entail the responsibilities and duties of a professional towards their patients/users. This includes jobs that they have to perform that fits into the specific professions that they have been qualified to do. E.g. the role of a nurse is to provide care for their patients.
Professional principles are the rules and regulations that act as a guideline by defining the boundaries/perimeters of what is inclusive and expected of professionals due to the nature of their work, which in terms of the health and social care provision is to provide patients/users the best quality care/services they need to function properly.
It also stresses out the legal requirements these professionals need to have in order for them to carry out practice such as the type of qualifications that they need. These principles are set out by professional bodies within certain organisations to act as a guideline in order to maintain the high standing of the profession. E.g. the Nursing and Midwifery council (NMC) regulates nurses and midwives by having codes of conduct which informs nurses and midwives on how to care for their patients by treating them as individuals, giving equal opportunities regardless of their gender, race etc.
Professionals within health and social care services use inter-professional working to improve the quality of care that they provide which in turn enhances patient/users’ experience as their level of trust increases, restoring their confidence further motivating them into using their health and social care services.
For example, if it was just one professional available to care for a patient/user with needs that goes beyond the expertise of their profession, the patient/user wouldn’t want to use that service as they feel that the professional is incapable of providing the necessary care that they need. However if they know that other professionals can be involve in their care, they are empowered to use the service and get the help that they need.
With the level of trust and confidence patients/users develop in their care services due to inter-professional, this enables professionals to creates alliances with their patients/users as these patients/users know that for the professionals to be collaborating, they are being put at the centre of service provision to ensure that they receive a high standard of care.
Taylor (2000) defined reflection as “throwing back of thoughts and memories, in cognitive acts such as thinking, contemplation, mediation and any other form of attentive consideration, in order to make sense of them, and to make contextually appropriate changes if they are required”. This help us to think critically of situations where we might find ourselves in enabling us to make the changes needed to improve certain aspects of ourselves especially in our professional life as it helps to maintain a high standard of work.
Reflection also helps us to pick up on errors and ensure that they do not reoccur e.g. a nurse who might not have used effective communication with one of their patient, such as not letting the patient know that they were about to give them an injection. Through reflection, the nurse would know where they went wrong and make certain that they use effective communication which is informing the patient before carrying out any procedure.
In this reflection, I’ll be referring to the Marks-Maran & Rose’s Reflective Cycle (1997) to explore and highlight areas within a specific event for me to make any required changes. The cycle consists of an explanation of the event, my thoughts arising from the situation, how it relates to theory and how it can be applied into practice.
The inter-professional learning is based on a session which I (a student nurse) took part in with my student peers from different professions consisting of a student; social worker, physiotherapist, radiotherapist, pharmacist and three other student nurses. The session was based on a case study about a girl named Millie, who has Downs Syndrome and also a long term boyfriend and wanted to go on the Contraceptive Pill. We had to debate about whether it was in her best interest to start taking the pills or not. My team had to debate against Millie going on the pill, for this my team and I used different skills such as communication, listening, information gathering and teamwork skills in order to achieve the main aim of the task.
I made use of my communication skill by interacting with my student peers within my team and the opposing team to discuss about the evidence gathered and our own view of the situation. Communication involves a ‘reciprocal process of sending and receiving message between two or more persons’. Sellman and Snelling (2010). For the other opposing team to hear our side of the debate we had to be clear, precise and concise so that they are able to give feedback to show that they understood our arguments. I made sure I used the right tone of voice by sounding calm and collected in the manner in which I delivered my speech, by keeping the pitch of my voice moderately loud enough for others to hear me without sounding aggressive, even though at some points of the debate the level of my voice was slightly high when some members of the opposing team became hostile by shouting over my team.
I felt that this skill was used appropriately and effectively even though there were times were it lacked consistency. This is because I have learnt that communication does not only involve using words, signs, language, tone, speech etc, it also consists of body language e.g. how you face an individual during a conversation. I also noticed that others in my team positioned their body away from the rest of the group which looked like they weren’t interested or wanted to be part of the team. This has made me more conscious of my body language when communicating with people so that I don’t give the wrong impressions.
This skill would be beneficial when applied into practice, importantly in inter-professional working as my role of a nurse involves working collaboratively with other professionals to provide care for certain patients e.g. working with dieticians, radiotherapists, radiologists etc. With effective communication, service users are safeguarded and protected against potential risks they may be exposed to by reducing the number of errors that may occur. For instance, a GP might have prescribed the wrong dosage of medication to an individual, the pharmacist is able to pick up on this and get in contact with the GP.
Active listening was shown through feedbacks and contributions which also showed my level of understanding and that of my team members, however if going through what the opposing team had said did not make sense we asked them to repeat themselves. In support to this, Hoppe (2006) suggested that “reflecting the other person’s information, perspective, and feelings is a way to indicate that you hear and understand.” This helped lessen the level of confusion through misinterpretations which the opposing team seem to have had a problem with, as a member of their team kept answering their question that was meant for our team or our questions were not being answered.
I have learnt that it is important to actively listen to people as it is the key to effective communication in receiving information, which in turn enables individuals to grasp hold of messages immediately rather than allowing the other person involved to keep on repeating themselves delaying response or action.
In practice, this skill would help me to understand patients clearly as it will allow me to pick up on underlying issues which may go unnoticed, for this “you must listen to the people in your care and respond to their concerns and preferences” (UK Nursing and Midwifery Council 2008). This helps to reduce the likelihood of incidents occurring especially in healthcare such as sending a patient home when they tell you that they are unwell and when they do go back home they are found unconscious or dead.
Information gathering was used in this session as we were asked to conduct a research about literatures that were against the contraceptive pill and those that supported it. Because information gathering is also known as research which “seeks to make known something about a field of practice or activity which is currently unknown to the researcher” (Brown and Dowling 1998), so by looking at various sources; journals, books and the Web rather than focusing on one source for information. This allowed my team and I to collect a wide range of information that targeted different areas of the topic, such as the effect of the pill on a Down syndrome woman and her mental capacity in relation to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which tries “to empower and protect vulnerable people who are unable to make their own decisions” (UK Department of Health 2005) and it seemed like Millie was not in the position to make rational decisions due to her disability as one of the symptoms of Downs syndrome is the difficulty to understand why they have made certain choices.
This skill would be useful in the health and social care sector where me as a health practitioner would need to be able to gather information on services users’ background on past medical histories by knowing how to source them electronically via the computer, folders and even the patients themselves so that me and those involve in the professionals have an idea of how best to provide effective care.
Teamwork involves a group of people working together towards an aim, in my group we supported each other by reading out our literatures based on our research such as statistics and government Acts if we thought that they needed help so that we come out stronger in the debate. Because of lack of teamwork the other team seemed to have struggled for their members were left on their own to argue our points without any input from the rest of their team.
I think that this skill is one of the attribute a professional need to have when working collaboratively with other professionals; this means professionals helping each other especially in areas that others may lack in knowledge, understanding or unable to cope by themselves. In health, this ensures that patients/users needs are not neglected by making sure that they are at the centre of service provision by everyone working together as a team.
With this skill I have learnt that in order for one to become successful in their work, they have to work with others as “effective teamwork is being dependent on each team member being able to anticipate the needs of others” (Alonso and Dunleavy 2012) for them to successfully achieve their goals. This is because everyone has weaknesses which may pose as an obstacle preventing them from achieving their goals, but with the help of others barriers are minimised as all the people involved work towards the same goal. For example a social worker might seek the assistance of a nurse to identify their needs such as they might need carers, go into a home that caters to their needs due to the patient’s medical condition(s).
Teamwork can be applied in practice by collaborating with others in a professional manner by contributing, showing support to others and having an understanding of what my role and others roles are within the team as a way to reduce misunderstanding and enable us to work efficiently.
In terms of reflection, it helps an individual get a broaden outlook on how they have performed, which for a professional enables them to identify where they might have gone wrong within their practice which they can learn from and assist them in becoming a competent professional.