Multidisciplinary Care

Palliative care is often discussed in terms of holistic care, and of a patient and family-centred approach. What differentiates palliative care from a traditional medical model is that the patients, family and carers are seen as equal members of the palliative care team.

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.

It has been identified that multidisciplinary teams are effective for the management of palliative care patients, but that barriers exist. These relate to communication, roles, team structure and lack of clarity in psychosocial care. [1] It is important that these issues are identified and addressed to ensure optimal care.

Many teams do not have a full range of allied health skills such as dietetics or speech pathology. These are often not considered essential where referral to local generalist professionals is required. Further, the concept of a multidisciplinary team cannot always be fully realised in rural and remote areas, where role boundaries need to be blurred in order to meet patient needs with the available resources.

  1. O'Connor M, Fisher C, Guilfoyle A. Interdisciplinary teams in palliative care: a critical reflection. Int J Palliat Nurs. 2006 Mar;12(3):132-7.

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Last updated 23 January 2017