Explaining the concept of multidisciplinary care
Explaining the concept of the ‘MDC team approach’ is an important part of introducing MDC to the patient. This is usually done by the lead health professional. All patients should be informed about the members of their MDC team, what and how information is shared between team members, and the treatment plan.
It is important to explain to the patient how the meetings work, the meeting structure, whether or not patient names are used in the meeting and issues relating to confidentiality.
Whilst the 'Principles of multidisciplinary care' emphasise the importance of involving the patient in discussion about the treatment plan, the patient does not have to be in attendance at the treatment planning meeting itself. More important is the need to have protocols in place to ensure that patient preferences are considered in developing the plan and that the outcomes of the meeting are discussed with the patient who agrees the final treatment plan.
All patients should be provided with written information about the members of their MDC team, what and how information is shared between team members and the treatment plan. This can be achieved through the development of:
- a brochure explaining the full range of health professionals involved in the patient’s care
- a map of possible care pathways
- a photo of team members or list of names
- a prompt sheet for patients to assist them in obtaining all information during consultation with other health professionals.
Communicating meeting outcomes with the patient
Having relevant information available to the patient not only helps the patient understand the disease, but also helps with decision-making and coping with the diagnosis. As health professionals, it is important to elicit the information needs of patients, as these may not always be forthcoming. This includes information related to the nature of the disease, cancer treatments and care options, side-effects of treatments, impact on daily life, and patients’ and caregivers’ psychosocial concerns.
The availability of information in different languages can improve health professionals’ ability to effectively communicate with patients and their caregivers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Information regarding the use of interpreters should be provided to patients and caregivers, if needed. If an interpreter is required, health professionals should explain that family members and friends are not appropriate translators, as they may not understand medical terminology and may have their own reactions and issues to deal with. A professional interpreter should be used.
The patient should be informed that treatment and care planning by the MDC team is part of their care and that their case may be discussed with health professionals whom they have not yet met. Consent from patients should be obtained in-line with local protocols regarding consent for the disclosure and use of personal information in the health environment. It is important to identify the level and type of consent required; for example, who is responsible for obtaining consent and ensuring all team members are aware of consent requirements.