The Interdisciplinary Team
According to the American Geriatrics’ Society Position Paper on Interdisciplinary, the concept of interdisciplinary care refers to a philosophy and process of care that integrates the specialized knowledge of multiple disciplines. The complex care needs of older adults can best be met by the expertise of multiple disciplines including Medicine, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Exercise Physiology, Nutritionists, Pharmacists, Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Social Workers, Clergy and others.
Interdisciplinary care teams are found in various settings and take various forms. The Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Teams are an example of the teams that have “demonstrated improved consumer satisfaction, reduction in use of institutional care, controlled utilization of medical services, and cost savings to public and private payers of care including Medicare and Medicaid.” (page 2, PPIC) One example of a PACE Program is the Elder Service Program of Dorchester. Faculty and students from Bouve College of Health Sciences programs participate in interdisciplinary teams at the Elder Service Program of Dorchester and other PACE programs.
It is important that health professionals learn to work in interdisciplinary teams. Ideally, students in various health sciences will have opportunities to work in interdisciplinary teams while they are students. It is especially important for students to learn about the roles of other healthcare professionals, how those roles can complement their own roles and how to collaborate with those professionals when they are caring for older adults. (Satin, D. Editor (2009) Health Management for Older Adults: Developing an Interdisciplinary Approach. New York, NY, Oxford University Press.) For a thorough review of the Interdisciplinary Team concept see the James J. Peters VA Bronx-NY Harbor Geriatric Research, Education & Clinical Center Geriatrics, Palliative Care and Interdisciplinary Team Work Curriculum Module #2: Introduction to Teamwork, Editors Judith L. Howe, PhD, And Barbara Morano, LCSW.
Review the roles and skills of team members including patient and family on Table 1, Houston Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training Manual, Team Members Overview, page 16 - 20 in Module 2.