A model of community-based interdisciplinary team training in the care of the frail elderly.

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Community Health Services; Education, Medical, Undergraduate; Frail Elderly; Geriatrics; Humans; Models, Educational; Patient Care Team


Health Services Research | Medicine and Health Sciences


OBJECTIVE: It is widely recognized that interdisciplinary team care is essential for effective management of complex patients such as the frail elderly. Physicians need to understand the operational mechanisms that drive the team care model. While such concepts should be an integral part of medical education, teaching such a model of care that demonstrates effective provider communication, coordination of multiple services, and the provision of cost-effective health care can be difficult. The Program of All-inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) is a well-established, high-quality program that has been replicated nationally and can serve as an effective teaching model. Achieving the goals of the PACE program requires strong team leadership and communication, clear patient-oriented goal definition, an understanding and appreciation of roles among various disciplines, skillful negotiation, and shared responsibility for the patient. The PACE model offers medical and family practice residents a non-traditional clinical setting with educational opportunities not available in most hospital or ambulatory settings. DESCRIPTION: For several years the Fallon Healthcare System Elder Service Plan (ESP), one of 25 national PACE programs, has provided an educational setting for medical and family practice residents as a component of their clinical rotations in geriatrics. This training experience has been expanded to include additional residents in on-site interactive seminars that focus on effective communication using an interdisciplinary team approach to care. The ESP program provides comprehensive medical and social services to a frail, non-institutionalized nursing-home-eligible population. The aim of the program is to preserve the health and independence of its participants for as long as possible. The ESP team consists of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, nurse's aides, home health workers, social workers, therapists, nutritionists, and pharmacists. The seminar includes a slide and video presentation led by members of the ESP team using selected scenarios that portray both effective and poor team dynamics and communication. Definitions of a team, the process of establishing patient- and family-oriented goals, interdisciplinary role appreciation and responsibility, and the basics of financing a comprehensive health care delivery system for the frail elderly are discussed. Approximately half of each session is devoted to interactive discussion and critiquing of the scenarios by the residents and faculty, which is derived from the ESP team. DISCUSSION: For most of the medical and family practice residents, this experience represents their first exposures to this model of coordinated team care for the elderly. Preliminary evaluation results indicate that residents have generally been unaware of the services available to the elderly and of the opportunities for coordinated care using the expertise of multiple disciplines. There is a lack of knowledge of key non-physician professional roles. The expanded use of PACE models as training sites could be beneficial in preparing future health care professionals for interdisciplinary team care of the growing numbers of frail elderly.


Acad Med. 2002 Sep;77(9):936.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID