Collaborating across the threshold: The development of interprofessional expertise in child safeguarding

<p>This article reports on an empirical study of the expertise that different professionals develop in working together to safeguard children. The research involved three key professional groups who work with children: nursing, teaching, and social work. The methodology used a clinical scenario and critical incident to explore professional perspectives and experiences of collaboration. Data collection was via semi-structured interviews with a sample of 18 practitioners, composed of pre- and post-qualifying practitioners from each professional group. Data analysis was undertaken through an inductive process, with open coding of transcripts followed by the synthesis of themes into a qualitative framework. The findings identified different elements of interprofessional expertise including assessment and decision-making, responsibility, risk and uncertainty, managing relationships, and dealing with conflict and difficulty. Collaborative activity was found to be shaped by the threshold between statutory and non-statutory services and mediated by the relationship between practitioners and parents. The article concludes by exploring constraints and opportunities for addressing potential gaps in interprofessional expertise in this area.</p>