This essay will focus on inter-professional working in health and social care delivery.

Authors Avatar

Essay title: With reference to a practice example of your choice, use the literature and seminar discussions to critically analyse inter-professional working with either:

Children and families



This essay will focus on inter-professional working in health and social care delivery. The history of inter-professional working will be explored. The nature and types of evidence underpinning inter-professional working focusing on the practice area of protection of vulnerable adults will be discussed. The range of factors that promote and create barriers to inter-professional working will be discussed. The implications of this essay will be discussed in relation to my future practice as a qualified Social Worker as a member of an inter-professional team.

The concept of inter-professional working in recent years has been on the agenda since the 1940s and has been debated due to recognition of need (Quinney 2006). Since the 1970s government initiatives required different professions to work together to improve service delivery. More recently government legislation and policies have introduced partnership working for health and social care agencies, which led to inter-professional teamwork becoming the preferred model of working (Quinney 2006). Research indicates that, whilst there has been a generally held belief that collaboration is a very good thing and inter-professional teams have increasingly gained favour in recent years (Cartlidge et al 1991). There has been little evidence to substantiate the view that collaboration leads to an increase in the quality of care, which has furthered the well being of patients and service users (Leathard 1994)

This model of joint team working is based on the premise that when health and social care agencies pool their resources and skills the service users will benefit from an efficient service that meets the holistic needs of the service user. However in theory the notion of inter-professional working is reasonable but in reality it does not always happen (Coombs and Ersser 2004).

Hall (2005) suggests inter-professional working is about professionals carrying out their own role, while working in partnership with other professionals to achieve joint goals. Inter-professional working between health and social care agencies promote effective ways of meeting the holistic needs of a person.

 Inter-professional working creates a wider safety net to avoid vulnerable children and adults at risk from slipping through the safety net between health and social care agencies. A collaborative approach provides a constant approach across all organisations (Quinney 2006). Irvine et al (2002) suggests that due to the nature of health and social care, Professionals have developed specialised skills. This means it is not possible for one professional alone to meet the needs of the service user without working inter-professionally to meet the holistic needs of the service user.

Quinney (2006) suggests that there is strong evidence from the Colwell Report in 1974 to the Laming Report in 2003, that failure from professionals in health and social care to communicate and collaborate can have tragic consequences. Reports into child abuse scandals of the 1980s highlighted the need to promote joint working between health and social care agencies, which influenced the current policy context of partnership working.

 However there is still less evidence to support the idea that inter-professional working and an awareness of other roles and other professions promotes closer collaboration in joint working (Payne 2005). However prior to the 1980s research evidence had begun to be collected that supported the idea of collaborative working between health and social care agencies (Clare and Cox 2003). Research by Barr (2002) argued the importance of inter-professional education and joint working put the service user at the centre, while promoting collaboration and incorporating professional values to deliver a seamless service that meets the holistic needs of the service user.  Research by O'Neil et al (2000) in the field of inter-professional learning discovered students who learn together develop a greater understanding of other professional roles, which develops skills in inter-professional teamwork.

Barr (2000) suggests that inter-professional education may be the way forward for professionals to learn to work inter-professionally. However learning inter-professionally can be viewed as risky as it brings us close to our boundaries and comfort zones Sills 2005 p92).

In England in recent years there has been emphasis on the government to promote joint working between health and social care. The National Health Service Community Care Act (1990), which stated local authorities were to deal with social care and health needs would remain within health care.  There was then an introduction of multi-professional teams that undertook care management responsibilities, which involved making assessments and managing care packages (Frost et al 2005). Due to the complexity of service users needs there was awareness for joint working between health and social care agencies. The government have developed many policies to support collaborative working, which improves public services.

Coombs and 2004)

The Department of Health (1998) Modernising Social Services encourages joint education, employment and partnership working in order to meet the needs of the general population. Other agencies were acknowledged such as housing, employment, education as well as the voluntary providers who provide help and support for service users. It recommends that budgets should be pooled together and investment for health and social care, which was recommended by the National Health Service NHS Plan (2000), which looks at creating care trusts to improve the health service.

Join now!


The DOH (2005), Independence Well-Being and Choice discusses adult social care and improvements that can be implemented to improve peoples lives. This could be achieved by giving and sharing information to give people choices to improve people’s lives.  People who use social care services may be vulnerable and unable to speak for themselves and may need protection. A designated director of adult services was identified and it was recommended that services work together to provide the support people need to improve their lives.  

The DOH (2006), Our Health, Our Care, Our Say, discovered the need for people ...

This is a preview of the whole essay