Interprofessional Practice Minute: Speech and OT Working Together
In complex cases, two (or more!) heads are better than one. That's the driving idea behind Interprofessional Practice, a collaborative approach to multi-faceted healthcare. According to the WHO, "Collaborative practice happens when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings."
Sidekick Therapy Partners provides services from three different professional backgrounds on a daily basis: occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and feeding therapy. In this series, we'll explore the benefits and complications of interprofessional practice in a pediatric and therapeutic environment.
Collaborating with other professionals who are part of a child’s treatment team allows therapists to provide the most individualized and comprehensive treatment. From a therapist’s perspective, it is so valuable to have professionals of other disciplines on the team to be able to share ideas and to gain insight into the best treatment approaches for the child based on their individual needs as determined by their therapist and carry over skills learned in other disciplines. While this collaboration occurs in all settings, it is most easily done in the outpatient setting where therapists can talk as they exchange the child from one session to the next, during breaks, or any other open times at the beginning or end of the day.
As an occupational therapist, I am able to share and offer information relating to a child’s sensory processing and regulation skills to make them more successful in their other therapies. Maybe the child arrives in the clinic and is showing signs of dysregulation. I am able to offer suggestions to the treating therapist of things that have been successful with the child so that they are better able to participate in their therapy session. Suggestions may be made for using a piece of equipment, participating in a movement activity, or setting up the environment in a specific way.
On the other end of things, I have been able to learn tips and tricks for improving and promoting communication from collaborating with speech therapists. This has been especially true for me with children who use communication devices. There are so many different types of devices available and set ups specific to each child’s needs. Getting to discuss these specifics with the child’s therapist has helped me be confident in implementing their device use into my sessions.
As a speech therapist, collaborating with occupational therapists is invaluable, as they can offer preemptive and real-time tips on suggested regulatory activities or environmental arrangements. All of this guidance can go a long way toward more productive sessions. If speech therapists can address sensory or regulatory concerns before they lead to dysregulation in sessions, that's a huge win.
Speech therapists can also provide occupational therapists with communication strategies, including low- and high-tech AAC options.
Beyond session-to-session arrangements, though, collaboration between therapists and fields can also lead to other benefits and insights. The ability to discuss a complex case with another professional from a different background can lead to joint solutions and complementary goals that are sometimes less likely when providing services in isolation. In this way, collaboration leads to even more far-reaching benefits for clients and more comprehensive care.