Working together to achieve more positive outcomes for patients
9 December 2021
David Vaux describes the invaluable learning experience of working alongside other healthcare professionals to deliver the best possible outcomes for patients
Bringing together and sharing the knowledge and insights of different health practitioners can be hugely beneficial and provides a more well-rounded and valuable learning experience for all involved, helping us to deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients.
As part of my role as Therapy and Exercise Lead at the charity Arthritis Action, I deliver training alongside other health professionals to share knowledge and expert opinion on matters relating to the treatment and management of arthritis. For example, I recently ran a webinar with a consultant rheumatologist on how to effectively manage pain from arthritis and I have worked alongside the dietitian at Arthritis Action to provide training on the ways to prevent the loss of muscle strength and function. The feedback from practitioners is always very positive.
I know first-hand how beneficial it is to learn from other health professionals. Working with the England touch rugby squad as the conditioning coach and being part of the medical team (2011-13) was a great learning experience. As was representing osteopathy during the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. Watching other health professionals at work, I was able to pick up new skills that I could bring into my practice and I gained the confidence to implement new approaches, including a hybrid model of osteopathy and exercise prescription.
In my experience some patients get better results from a combination of manual therapy and a movement and exercise prescription, which involves signposting to communities of exercise. Physiotherapists and GPs do a lot of social prescribing, so I have learnt from their experiences and interactions with patients.
Finding common ground
There is sometimes a lack of understanding amongst other health professionals about osteopathy but seeking opportunities to work together can change this. Much of my work is focused on showcasing the level of education and rigour across osteopathy and demonstrating our important contribution to the delivery of high standards of patient care.
Being an Allied Health Professional has made a massive difference to the reputation of osteopathy and helped to change perceptions.
The experience of working with medical clinicians and academics on health promotion projects aimed at helping people self-manage pain has been invaluable during the pandemic. as a working group member for the Sport England/Demos Ageing exercise project which promotes just 10 minutes of physical activity a day to benefit physical and mental health; and as a working group member for the Physiologists Society National Deconditioning prevention project.
Although some healthcare professions, such as nursing, are more open to manual therapy than others, it is possible to build respectful, collaborative relationships with a wide range of healthcare professionals and organisations. What I have found is that it really helps to be persistent, and it helps to find common ground. This could be, for example, highlighting NICE guidance that informs the work of all health professionals or joining a specialist interest group or association with a specific focus.
There will be times when collaborative working is challenging but, from my experience, when health professionals work together we can achieve more positive outcomes for our patients.
After qualifying at the British School of Osteopathy in 2006, David studied at the Osteopathic Centre for Children gaining his MSc in Paediatric Osteopathy. He also has a Masters Degree in Exercise and Health Science and postgraduate qualifications in Occupational health and fitness. He has been the Therapy and Exercise Lead at the charity Arthritis Action since 2017 and works with healthcare professionals across different specialisms to support the treatment of patients with arthritis. David has been involved in round table events of cross disciplinary professions with interests in national guidelines around the pain management of arthritis and sits on a number of advisory panels for Allied Health Professionals.