No one in the dog industry works in isolation, we all need to work in concert with the guardians of dogs, Vet nurses, Vets and other professionals, in fact when we do plan and act together, we can achieve better outcomes for the dogs that we are called in to help.
Partnership working can be broadly defined as a collaborative relationship between two or more parties based on trust, equality and mutual understanding for the achievement of a specified goal. Partnerships involve risks as well as benefits, making shared accountability critical. Partnerships can be formed between individuals, agencies or organisations with a shared interest. There is usually an overarching purpose for partners to work together and a range of specific objectives. Partnerships are often formed to address specific issues and may be short or long term, formal or informal. http://changesuk.net/themes/partnership-working/
Examples abound of times when ‘if everyone worked together things would have improved’ but what about the learning from the times that it worked very well. Is that not more useful to us? I can give several accounts of when the outcomes for a dog where hugely improved when one or more people got together and worked out a plan of action – but more than that, they actually did what was on the plan.
Dog was due to be pts due to severe medical issues that the current family could not cope with. The Vets recommended a breed rescue who agreed to take the dog under their care. This process relied on a Behaviourist to assess the dog in their current home and complete a report, the Vet provided medical history records, a Volunteer carried out a home check on a prospective Fosterer and the current family was fully supported through the process. Once in the new home, the dog was again seen by the Behaviourist to give advice about settling in to their new surroundings, observation from this visit shared with the Rescue and the new Vet who would be taking over the care on behalf of the Rescue. The combined discussion based on behavioural observations, initial medical history and the views of the Fosterer, enabled the Vet to gain a much wider picture of the health of the dog and to provide tests/treatment as required. The outcome for this dog is now completely different from the initial prognosis.
Dog with anxiety issues, had a history of nipping people and of being ‘unpredictable’ around some dogs. Ongoing discussions with Behaviourist in relation to behaviour modification but comments made by Guardian around the reluctance of the dog to eat or eats very slowly. An initial Vet check reported nothing of note. Situation continued for a couple of weeks with no improvement at which point the Behaviourist had a discussion with a Vet nurse and shared concerns about dental issues affecting the dog. The Vet nurse and Vet worked out a plan to ensure that the dog would enter the surgery by a side door, would be sedated and given a thorough check over. The plans were discussed with the Guardian and the Behaviourist to ensure that the Vet visit was a stress free as possible. On examination, dental issues were discovered which would have been fairly painful and uncomfortable for the dog. This undoubtably contributed to some of the behaviours observed during the initial assessment visit.
Everyone will have examples of this type of situation, what makes them stand out? Is it that all involved worked together to achieve a common goal? That they agreed a plan and followed it? Possibly, but the key learning points, in my opinion, are that there was an individual who co ordinated the care, acting as a central point of contact but also that discussions took place and views were listened to. Everyone has their part to play but they can only act on the information that they have; some will have more than others and some will be best placed to act as a central point of contact. Both of the cases used demonstrate the benefits of clear and respectful communication between everyone involved.
Reflection is an important part of learning, what did we do well, what could have been better, but there are other questions to consider to help us work more effectively with others:
How do you integrate with others in a coherent way to maximise
In what ways can you measure improvements through working in partnership?
What creative ways have you found successful in reaching out
to other Professionals? What have others done and can you replicate or adapt
What information is missing, do we really have every part of the jigsaw?
It is all too easy to blame others for not ‘doing their bit’ but we have a responsibility to our clients to ensure that they get the best possible care, that may mean referral on to a Specialty or asking a Vet or other professional to use their expertise to complete the picture. Our goal should be to provide as much information as possible, share our observations and concerns and to continue to support the Guardians throughout the process.
© 2020 Dale McLelland, Being Canine