Inter-professional collaborations are invaluable relationships between healthcare professionals that are formed with the sole purpose of providing optimum help for a service user (Hornby and Atkins, 2000). Goodman and Clemow (2010) explain that collaborative practice is actually based around two ideas. The first is that nurses need to be able to work with other professionals, and the second is that they need to be able to work with ‘people’. They go on to explain that the concept of collaborative practice is based on the idea that excellent patient care relies on the expertise of a number of care providers. Day (2006) points out that actually defining what collaborative working is, is very complex, and that in order to understand what exactly collaborative working means within the context of nursing, an understanding of what collaboration is, is required, along with the ability to apply this understanding to a number of other terms which are often used both interchangeably and synonymously with this one in literature. According to Day, collaboration can be defined as individuals or agencies working together in order to achieve something that neither can achieve alone. This, however, is not to be confused with the meaning of inter-professional working, which is defined as professionals from different disciplines working between and among each other for the mutual benefit of those involved. Understanding that the two phrases are in fact different in nature allows us to have a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to use the term inter-professional collaborative practice, and this can be defined as professionals from different disciplines working together towards a common goal in order to achieve something that neither can achieve alone.
Day suggests that the idea of inter-professional collaboration is an integral part of effective, holistic healthcare delivery, but also that this idea is not a new one. In fact she goes on to say that its importance was recognised as far back as the Beveridge Report in 1942 (cited in Day, 2006) before the formation of the National Health Service (NHS), and states that over the last ten years, significant progress has been made towards creating an environment within which inter-professional working can flourish. McCray (2009) and Goodman and Clemow (2010) explain that new and existing government policies and how the government allocate funding in order to implement these policies is a significant factor in this recent trend towards inter-professional collaborative working. Cooperation with others within the collaborative care team is one of the central pillars of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Code of Professional Practice (NMC, 2004), and, as stated by McCray, nurses must engage and communicate with a wide range of professionals to ensure that the patient receives full and ethical care. She goes on to say that communication is an essential part of health care planning and delivery, no matter which area or discipline one happens to be in, as primarily, healthcare delivery involves working with people. Tummey (2005) states that effective communication is the foundation of the nurse-patient relationship, and it could be argued that the quality of care is in fact determined by the effectiveness of communication. The ability to communicate allows the building of trusting and mutually respective relationships between health care professionals and between professionals and those receiving care.
Carson (2000) explains that as nurses, recognising and meeting the needs of a patient in their entirety is of utmost importance in health promotion and recovery, but that equally important, is recognising that without the input of other healthcare professionals, all patient needs may not be being met. He states that a fully effective, collaborative care team should comprise of representatives from all disciplines relative to the patient, and should involve both clinical and non-clinical...
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