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Collaboration Between Disciplines

Collaboration Between Disciplines
melissa n., M.A., CCC-SLP
 
    I overheard my Director of Rehab, who is also the department’s COTA, talking with his new student the other day. “This department is just really the three of us. Our PT, our Speechie, and me. The OTR comes in for evals and updates, but really, it’s just the three of us. We run like a family… we help each other out. We each do our part to be sure that the other is able to do his or her job as easily and as happily as possible.”
    He’s right… we do operate that way. Because of that, I enjoy my workdays and they run as smoothly as possible, even when we are overloaded with our caseloads and as per usual, unexpected things pop up. It is common for us to coordinate bringing down one patient while another therapist is finishing up with a different patient, so that we can make a smooth transition for rotating the patients between disciplines. Being flexible regarding therapy minutes when one therapist has to shorten his or her day due to doctor appointments and vacations contributes to morale and teamwork. Due to being such a small department, we consult with each other consistently regarding concerns, statuses, and goals of our residents. This leads to a carry-over of skills from one discipline to another being carried over into another’s therapy sessions. For example, when I am working with a resident who the Physical Therapist has recently told me is having trouble with recalling safe transfer sequencing, I can target safe transfer guidelines as a memory task during my therapy session. When I discuss a topic with a resident targeting immediate and delayed recall, I often tell the Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist, “Hey, ask Ms. Smith about Johnny Appleseed. We talked about it earlier for ‘Eat a Red Apple Day.” When I know that self-feeding goals are targeted in Occupational Therapy sessions, I can be sure that when I am having a dysphagia therapy session with a patient, I carry-over strategies that are recommended by the Occupational Therapist. The collaboration between disciplines makes for not only a more enjoyable work environment, but also to residents receiving a higher quality service from the therapy department as a whole.
    The same princliple applies regarding the rest of the staff at the facility. From the nursing staff, to the maintenance man, to the cooks, maintaining a sense of teamwork is an easy thing to achieve when you consistently show that you will practice the “Golden Rule.” (Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.) And although we are a boisterous, goofy mixture of personalities, our therapy room is a place that residents frequently come to even though they are not on our caseload, and a place where families feel at ease to observe, laugh, learn, teach, and sometimes, cry. Our collaboration creates an environment of comfort, support, and encouragement. “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” (unknown, http://thinkexist.com)