C. Soares1, P. Arguello2, I. Bonança2, A. Cerqueira2, G. Colaço2, M. Gomes da Silva2, J. Gronita2, A. Marques2

1Escola Superior de Saúde - Instituto Politécnico Setúbal; Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), CIS-IUL (PORTUGAL)
2Escola Superior de Saúde - Instituto Politécnico Setúbal (PORTUGAL)
Inter professional education is becoming increasingly relevant, particularly in caring for older people. This target population may present complex situations in terms of clinical, social and emotional needs, which require an holistic approach, as well as specialized ones. Accordingly, health professionals face important challenges that surpass mono-profissional action and care. The aim of this project is, through an innovative approach, to contribute to the development of communication and team working skills, within inter-professional teams in order to achieve adequate solutions of health care towards the needs of older people.

A one day activity was planned with teachers and students from Escola Superior de Saúde (ESS), carers and older people themselves, from a local network in Setúbal, Portugal - “EnvelheSeres”. The day was organized in 2 parts – in the morning, inter professional teams of first year students from Nursing, Speach Therapy and Physiotherapy, conducted an interview planned beforehand, with older individuals. After lunch, students from the 1st, 2nd and 4th years’ explored different themes with small groups of older people (not explored in this abstract). Students’ self perception about the contribution of this activity towards their learning outcomes was evaluated through the use of an online questionnaire with a 5 point likert scale.

A total of 100 first year students, from three different undergraduate degrees, were involved in the activity. From these, fifty eight (58%) responded to the online questionnaire. The activity was considered by all students (100%) as an important contribution towards “Understanding the dimensions of verbal and nonverbal communication” & “Ability to implement an empathic hearing strategy”. With regards to “Respecting the opinion of colleagues and other professions, even when they differ from our own” and “Communicating effectively with other professional groups prioritizing the interest of the older person”, 84,5% and 94,9% respectively, consider that this activity gave a significant contribution to the development of those skills. The perception of students was that, overall, this activity contributed significantly to the developement of communication and team working skills.

Discussion & Conclusion:
This activity has been implemented at the ESS in the past three years. Each year it has been subjected to improvements, in order to better respond to the aims initially defined. Its innovation lies in the real time/real life approach, for inter-professional learning of transversal skills, such as communication and team working. Simultaneoulsy it acts as a tool which strengthens the relationships with local community. Based on the perception of the students themselves, the results suggest that this is a relevant strategy to develop communication skills, particularly in an interprofessional setting. Communication skills have been identified as a key issue to promote better team work, and this actvity has therefore become an important learning opportunity for undergraduate students at the ESS.