Palliative care is often discussed in terms of holistic care, and of a patient and family centred approach. This care is best delivered by a multidisciplinary team who can support patients and families who may have physical, functional, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual care needs.
A multidisciplinary team will mean different things to different services. For some it will mean having many specialist palliative care practitioners involved in the service itself. This could be Pastoral Care Workers, Social Workers, Music Therapists, Bereavement Counsellors or Occupational Therapists. For others it will mean referring to health professionals within the same organisation or health service, such as a hospital physiotherapist. For some in more rural and remote areas this referral to other disciplines may be difficult with long waiting lists and distances to travel for appointments.
For the specialist palliative care team the term 'interdisciplinary team' is commonly used and is a common model of practice. An interdisciplinary team is that which has roles that sometimes overlap between disciplines and generally the team will share information and work interdependently. While the patient and family may only see one or two members of the team, those members will be supported by the interdisciplinary team in which they practice.
Competencies / Training
- The Australian General Practice Network Rural Palliative Care Resource kit has information on multidisciplinary teams, including establishing and managing a multidisciplinary team
- The Cancer Australia website has Multidisciplinary care Resources, including Multidisciplinary Care Principles for Advanced Disease, Multidisciplinary meetings for Cancer Care. They also have collated resources and references on Multidisciplinary care (2008) (223kb pdf).
Guidelines / Documents / Factsheets
- The PCC4U website has online learning modules on:
Related CareSearch Page
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Free Full Text Article
Fairchild A, Watanabe S, Chambers C, Yurick J, Lem L, Tachynski P. Initiation of a multidisciplinary summer studentship in palliative and supportive care in oncology.
J Multidiscip Healthc. 2012;5:231-9. Epub 2012 Sep 24.
Wittenberg-Lyles E, Oliver DP, Demiris G, Cunningham CP. Sharing atrocity stories in hospice: A study of niceness message strategies in interdisciplinary team meetings.
Prog Palliat Care. 2011 Jul 1;19(4):172-176.
Wittenberg-Lyles E, Parker Oliver D, Demiris G, Baldwin P. The ACTive Intervention in Hospice Interdisciplinary Team Meetings: Exploring family caregiver and hospice team communication.
J Comput Mediat Commun. 2010 Apr 1;15(3):465-481.
Wittenberg-Lyles E, Parker Oliver D, Demiris G, Regehr K. Interdisciplinary collaboration in hospice team meetings.
J Interprof Care. 2010 May;24(3):264-73.
Mitchell G, Tieman J, Shelby-James T. Multidisciplinary care planning and teamwork in primary care.
Med J Aust. 2008 Apr 21;188(8 Suppl):S61-4.
Dawson S. Interprofessional working: communication, collaboration... perspiration!
Int J Palliat Nurs. 2007 Oct;13(10):502-5.
Pettifer A, Cooper J, Munday D. Teaching interprofessional teamwork in palliative care-a values-based approach.
J Palliat Care. 2007 Winter;23(4):280-5.
Last updated 16 May 2014*