The multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting: How can we get the best of the time and the team?
In medical departments and organisations where complex cases are managed, the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting is commonplace. Typically, the attendees include case managers, physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, exercise specialists and psychologists. From this group a nominated lead will chair the meeting. He or she keeps the group to the agenda, working towards an action plan to be implemented.
Often the approach is problem focused. What are the problems we need to fix? The biomedical model and healthcare training use this style, seeing a list of issues that need to be addressed. Once this has happened, the patient is better and can move on. This works well for emergency situations, but in all other scenarios we need to engage with the patient or rather the person. This is the person-first approach.
The idea of fixing someone promotes passivity, whereas person-first promotes active participation and a sense of empowerment. We know that this is important to work towards a better, healthier life. The active approach can be integrated into the MDT in a number of ways.
Here are some tips to make the most of your meetings.
Chairing the meeting
If you are the chair, you can choose the way that the meeting unfolds. One such way uses positive realism.
To start the meeting, we can ask each member of the team to share a story of something that has gone well with the person. You could even take a step beforehand by inviting the team to share something that has been positive that week or that day. Then we move into high points in relation to the client.
Why would you start this way? Simply because it shifts people into an engaged and open mindset through the active sharing of positive experiences. In this state we are much more likely to come up with good ideas, to connect with other members of the team and see possibilities for shaping a better future. The data on this is clear.
Ensure that each team member has the opportunity to contribute. Meetings must be on an equal footing as everyone has a valid opinion based on what they have observed with the client. The positive approach helps people feel comfortable so that they share their thoughts. Each participant is encouraged to listen.
Setting the rules from the outset means that everyone knows the expectations. This saves time and keeps people focused. For instance, mobile phones should be switched off, we listen until another has finished speaking, we stick to the timings. There maybe other things that you feel are important to have an effective meeting.
Starting with the high points
What has gone well this week? Or, since last time we met?
Focusing on strengths and what we want to bring forward helps us to get the best of everyone on the team and the person in the centre. You could call this the positive core. There are a number of things we can consider.
What has the person done well? They may have reached a goal or been consistent in practicing.
What has the team done well? Communication may have been effective and up to date, or shown effective encouragement to the person.
Each team member could consider one of their own strengths that they have particularly used that week. Giving a specific example helps to illustrate the impact. What is it exactly, that I bring to the success in this situation?
There are different ways that this can be done. Depending on the time, you can use a simple question or go deeper. The latter is useful in bringing the team together, along with exercises that discover the shared values and picture(s) of success. These may be considered in a separate team building session.
You may think that there is not the time to use such practices. However, taking the opportunity to build the team means that the engagement builds and with this the performance and person-centred care. Typically, there is a greater cost to not attending to the team health and dynamics.
Clarify the best outcome of the meeting
What do we want to come away with at the end? How does that feel? What difference will this make to the client’s life?
With everyone pulling in the same direction, success is much more likely. Deciding upon the outcome and gaining each member’s buy-in from the start means that all the energy drives the conversation towards the shared vision.
Time is valuable. We want to squeeze every last bit of useful juice out of the moments we have together. Keeping focused, working together and encouraging each other lifts the energy in the room. We can feel excited abut the team’s contribution and usefulness as we discover what works, dream about a positive future, design or update the plan by building on successes and take action.
Know our roles and action plans
We usually know our own roles inside out. The other team members may have a good idea, but let’s not take that for granted. We may have sub-specialities or particular strengths that are of high value. These must be appreciated.
It can be useful then, to have an introductory session whereby each person describes their work and style. Strengths could be added if there is time.
When the work plan is being distributed, knowing each other’s roles and responsibilities makes it far easier for the team to function at the highest level. This can be thought of like a sports team or an orchestra where they come together as one to produce a peak performance. There are steps we can always take to ensure we turn up in the best way.
With each team member knowing the actions that they are responsible for and those of the others, there is an accountability in place. With a high functioning team characterised by autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose, there is a potent inner drive. In this case, accountability simply resides quietly in the background because everyone is energised to do their bit.
What standard of meeting do you want? How can we make meetings energising and encouraging?
Ultimately the team members decide. We can create a framework that means participants see the gathering as a high point; a springboard to new and exciting action that help the client improve his or her life. Being in touch with our values, our purpose together with a sense of ownership means that strategies can be enthusiastically implemented. We are positive, realistic and relentless in our pursuit of success, learning along the way, but together.
Much more can be said and practiced, drawing upon what works in leadership and coaching to get the best of people we work with and for. This brief article will hopefully give you some ideas that you can use in your workplace to encourage the team and make best use of the time.