Service users' views of collaborative care: a descriptive exploratory study
Tucker, Lynne Muriel
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There is a belief that service users have an essential role to play in collaborative care. Surprisingly, there appear to be minimal opportunities for service user’s opinions, experiences and requirements to be heard when organising the plan of care. This lack of inclusion is significant in an increasingly consumer-conscious health care context, where service users expect to have a voice about their care. The aim of this research was to explore service user's experiences, expectations and understanding of the care received at an Integrated Health Clinic. The design was qualitative descriptive. Fifteen service users were interviewed. Data were analysed thematically. The major themes identified from the service user’s that influenced service delivery were: User Expectations, User Perceptions and User Observations. Findings indicate that while service users did not receive collaborative care at the Clinic, unequivocally, they would have liked to be recipients of that model of care. However, service users spoke highly of receiving patient-centred care, of uni-professional communication, and noted that teamwork occurred in some professional groups. It was especially interesting to note that service users continued to attend the Clinic, so that they might contribute to student’s learning. In becoming involved with students they engaged in two-way learning. It seems that service users not only benefit from these practice learning situations, but contribute to the collaboration as well. This suggests that the service user's view is a critical aspect for the ongoing development of service delivery and practice in this integrated healthcare environment. Recommendations include: Developing learning packages for service users to support student learning; marketing of the Clinic; clarifying the model of care is important; the Clinic’s common purpose needs to be reviewed; interprofessional faculty development could be strengthened; and increasing Clinic availability to service users right across the year needs to be considered. Overall, service users have much to contribute to collaborative practice, and it seems that their input so far might be very much under-estimated.