A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Specialist Seating: Collaborating for Optimum Outcomes
The assessment, prescription, and use of specialist seating for individuals with complex postural needs require a multi-disciplinary approach to ensure optimum outcomes. Interdisciplinary collaboration among Health & Social Care Professionals (HCPs) is critical for providing comprehensive care and addressing individuals’ unique needs. I thought it important to take the time to highlight the exceptional role of various Health & Social Care Professionals and celebrate the teamwork that goes into specialist seating provision.
Why is a multi-disciplinary approach important?
Holistic management: Interdisciplinary collaboration allows for more thorough and holistic assessment, prescription, and care planning. Each Health & Social Care Professional brings expertise, resulting in a comprehensive understanding of the individual’s needs, including their postural requirements, functional abilities, and goals. This information is vital for providing the most appropriate specialist seating solution and a care plan that can be confidently and consistently implemented.
Improved individual outcomes: When Health & Social Care Professionals work together, they can address the individual’s physical, emotional, and social well-being more effectively, leading to improved outcomes. Collaboration ensures that all aspects of care, from postural care to pressure management, are addressed. It also helps to prevent secondary complications and promotes overall quality of life.
Efficient and effective care: Interdisciplinary collaboration promotes efficient and effective care by streamlining communication and decision-making processes. Team members can share their knowledge and skills, ensuring that the best possible interventions are provided. This approach reduces the risk of miscommunication, duplication of services, and delays in care delivery.
What are the roles of various Health & Social Care Professionals in seating provision?
Occupational Therapist (OT): OTs play a significant role in providing specialist seating. They evaluate functional abilities, activities of daily living, and environmental factors. OTs provide input on seating features and adjustments to promote independence and engagement in meaningful activities, including social, occupational and leisure activities. OTs can also offer guidance into sensory integration, which could be a determining factor in an individual tolerating a seating solution.
Physiotherapist: Physiotherapists assess posture, range of motion, muscle strength, tone, and reflexes. They contribute valuable information about mobility and positioning needs, helping to determine the most appropriate specialist seating solution. Physiotherapists provide strategies to maintain and improve physical abilities and promote active engagement. They also collaborate with other team members to monitor and address postural changes over time, especially where rehabilitation potential or deterioration in presentation exists.
Speech & Language Therapist: In some cases, individuals with complex needs may require input from Speech & Language Therapy for safe postural care in sitting. They provide valuable information on communication and swallowing abilities, which can influence seating selection, chair function suitability, and positioning. They collaborate with the team to develop strategies for improving communication and addressing any swallowing difficulties whilst sitting, including how functions such as tilt-in-space and back angle recline are used.
Nurse: Nurses are critical in monitoring overall health and well-being, including skin integrity assessment and contributing to pressure injury prevention strategies, where indicated. Nurses also play an essential role in coordinating care among various team members and ensuring that individuals receive the necessary support and resources. Nurses can communicate changes in the individual’s condition to the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) to ensure that the specialist seating solution remains appropriate and effective.
Seating Specialist: Seating Specialists, like our Seating Assessors at CareFlex, possess expertise in seating solutions, their features, and their accessories. They collaborate with Health & Social Care Professionals to recommend the most suitable specialist seating solution based on the challenges determined by the multi-disciplinary team. The key is the joint effort between the Health & Social Care Professionals and the Seating Assessor to bring their expertise together for effective goal planning. CareFlex Seating Specialists also work closely with me to provide education and training for Health & Social Care Professionals and the support network on the safe and effective use of CareFlex specialist seating.
What about the support network?
At times, the individual’s support network will be an important part of the collaboration and play a vital role in the success of specialist seating. By involving caregivers and/or family members in the process, Health & Social Care Professionals can better understand individuals’ preferences, comfort, behaviour, communication, and daily experiences. This input and feedback can help the multi-disciplinary team make informed decisions about seating provision. The support network also contributes to the ongoing, consistent compliance with care plans as they are often depended on for transfers, positioning, and care for individuals with complex disabilities.
A multi-disciplinary approach ensures that each individual receives comprehensive and individualised intervention tailored to their specific needs. By addressing all aspects of their health and well-being, Health & Social Care Professionals can work together to promote compliance with care plans and maximise quality of life. It also allows a structure for regular communication and updates for ongoing monitoring; adjustments to specialist seating provision may be indicated to ensure that it remains appropriate and effective as needs change over time.
The multi-disciplinary team collaboration not only leads to better outcomes but also fosters a supportive and client-centred environment that values the contributions of all team members. The success of this approach relies heavily on the dedication of all Health & Social Care Professionals involved. As you continue to work together to improve the lives of the individuals you work with, please take the opportunity to express your gratitude to your colleagues for their invaluable contributions. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in promoting a positive and supportive work environment that encourages continued collaboration and shared success. So, contact your fellow Health & Social Care Professionals today and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work and commitment to delivering exceptional client care.
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