The Advantages of Multidisciplinary Teamwork in Geriatric Services in Hong Kong

The Advantages of Multidisciplinary Teamwork in Geriatric Services in Hong Kong

The Advantages of Multidisciplinary Teamwork in Geriatric Services in Hong Kong

by Henry Mok (MSc Manufacturing Systems Engineering – IGDS)

In Hong Kong, there are around 1 million people over the age of 60. There is usually more than one dimension to fulfill the needs of the elderly. Most old people suffer from several simultaneous problems. Many of the most challenging management problems address on how to deal with the interactions among several diseases and their treatment. Moreover, old people’s needs include health care, psychological care, social life, as well as spiritual needs, etc.

What is multidisciplinary teamwork? Multidisciplinary teams are groups of professionals coming from diverse disciplines who come together to provide comprehensive assessment and consultation in elder care. For instance, multidisciplinary teams include registered nurses, medical officers, social workers, psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

It is becoming increasingly clear that no single professional group can meet patients’ needs in such complex, fast-paced and demanding environments (Sullivan*, p.169) Multidisciplinary teamwork is about making the most of different skills to meet people’s needs, and creating satisfying and supportive working groups. It is about the details of making community care a reality (John Ovretveit, p.1). Organization ensures that needs are linked to the services and that service providers are laterally linked to each other. These links are different in the bureaucratic, market and association modes of organization. (John Ovretveit* p.52)

Advantages of multidisciplinary teamwork in geriatric services include:

1) Saving resources, avoiding duplication of workload

Teamwork aims to stimulate group cohesion and cooperation towards professional and service objectives. Multi-professional care uses teamwork to bridge divisions and conflicts between and within professional groups in care services, hence stimulating a more effective and coordinated use of resources. Compared to that of China or nearby countries, the living standard in Hong Kong is relatively at a high level, thus the operational expenses in human resources would be relatively high. Multidisciplinary approach may provide a more cost-effective solution to service users.

2) Avoiding frustration of elderly and build-up of trust
Despite the fact that different professions have their own emphasis and area of concern, certain part of their concerns may be the same or based on same background of the service users, that is, the elderly. If different professions approach the service user one by one and ask similar or the same questions during the initial assessment, it would result in making the service user feeling uncomfortable and even frustrated. Multidisciplinary teamwork approach would eliminate unnecessary duplication of workload spent on background assessment and share certain background and key information and situations of the service users. If the elderly are more comfortable with the service team, a more trusting relationship could be built.

3) Centralized expertise and encourage coordination
The modern approach of providing acute and chronic care emphasizes case management, and multidisciplinary teamwork can ensure a centralization of expertise and allow better communication and coordination between different professions. This approach enhances the professional skills and knowledge of individual team members by providing a forum for learning about the strategies, resources, and approaches used by various disciplines. Thus, it encourages them to provide the best combination of services with excellent quality. Even in difficult cases, effective teamwork should be capable of providing the best solutions.

4) Bridging the gap

Such teamwork approach provides a ‘check and balance’ mechanism to ensure that the interest and rights of all concerned professions are addressed to. Moreover, it allows the identification of service gaps or breakdowns in coordination between agencies or individuals.

5) Effective time management
From the perspective of service users (the elderly) and from the perspective of service providers (those different professions), multidisciplinary teamwork can avoid the duplication of workload and allow more a effective use of time.

Final remarks
The team approach to assessing teams starts from the assumption that there are typical features of a ‘good’ or ‘effective team (Payne* P.51). In real life, a effective team will depends on effective collaboration between different professions, effective coordination of services’ strategies and policies, and a partnership attitude of the service users and careers.


Hong Kong 2001. HKSAR Government

Hornby, S (2000) Collaborative Care: Interprofessional, Interagency and Interpersonal. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd.

Ovretveit, John (1993) Coordinating Community Care: Multidisciplinary Teams and Care Management. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Payne, M (2000) Teamwork in Multiprofessional Care. Chicago, Illinois: Lyceum Books, Inc.

Sullivan, E (1999) Creating Nursing’s Future: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges. St Louis, Missouri: Mosby, Inc.