Team Dynamics Influence Your Ability to Provide Rehabilitation | MOOC Week 3 Reflections

Course 3 of the annual Physiopedia MOOC has made me reflect more on the structures and teams that I am involved in.

Course 3 of the MOOC focused on Rehabilitation Infrastructure and the Rehabilitation Team, and examined in detail the different types of rehab services and how they function. Throughout the course I have been reflecting on my own workplace and the infrastructures that influence my work. I am a Paediatric Primary Care Physiotherapist, and I work across two primary care sites. On reflection I realise that I work in a setting which involves all the professions identified within the course.

Communication Makes Us a Strong Effective Team

Firstly I work within a physiotherapy team, who are generally my main support structure in my day to day work. They provide me with the opportunity to talk about challenging cases, discuss assessment findings and options for treatment interventions. I am lucky to be able to learn from other passionate physiotherapists, who willingly share their knowledge and experience throughout my working week.

Working within Paediatrics I also work really closely with a wide range of other rehabilitation team member including public health nurses, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, psychology and dietetics on a daily basis. Day to day the setting changes between clinics and individuals come and go however the multidisciplinary team remains consistent. Everyone plays their part of the MDT with the child at the centre. This is our primary team structure.

The structure of the team is adaptable and responsive to changes when required. We have long waiting lists with resource challenges resulting in limited time to be able to work more closely together. But we know there are times we need to commit more time to a case when completingx needs are involved and we all adapt as a single unit improving the care we can provide. All it would take it one person or resource change for the team to be unable to adapt in this way highlighting to me how fragile systems and highly functioning teams can be.

Most of our team communications come in the form of our Primary Care Paediatric Team Meetings. During this meeting we identify individuals we feel a closer, more collective team is required in order to better support their rehabilitation needs, and try to set broader more functional goals as a team rather than as individual clinicians. This is the type of team structure that I really enjoy being part of, it gives me an opportunity to learn from other rehabilitation professionals outside of just physiotherapy. It also allows me to build a basic level of knowledge in other areas outside of physiotherapy that I can use to support the individuals I work with while they are waiting to see other professionals.

It Doesn’t Matter What The Setting Is, Teamwork is Necessary to Provide Rehabilitation

This course has also given me the opportunity to reflect on the wide range of settings that I have worked in from my current role in Paediatric Primary Care, to volunteer work that I have completed working with other physiotherapists in low resource settings in Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana and also with para sport with athletes with a disability from local level participation right up to paralympic Games.

Both presentations from Cornelia Barth and Calier O’Reilly really highlighted to me that rehabilitation is just as important in each one of these contexts, despite the fact that the outcomes or interventions used are different. Optimising function means different things to different people, and as a rehabilitation professional I need to be able to recognise this and adapt what I do to meet these different needs. 

I’m excited heading into the final course of the MOOC, which examines the delivery of rehabilitation interventions and looks at what we should consider to effectively select appropriate rehabilitation interventions for the individuals we work with. We have some great speakers lined up for you next week, including Dr Martin Heine, Researcher at Stellenbosch University and Rithy Yoeung, from Humanity and Inclusion, who share their expertise on different rehabilitation interventions.

This post was written by Naomi O’Reilly the MOOC manager at Phyisopedia.

This work is part of the ReLAB-HS activity and is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).