Partnering with parents in interprofessional leadership graduate education to promote family–professional partnerships
Evidence supports the benefits to families of relationships with professionals that build on the concept of partnership, but there are few studies in the literature of strategies involving joint education for parents and professionals to enhance the capacity of parents of children with special healthcare needs to be effective interprofessional partners. Since 2007, parents of children with special healthcare needs have participated alongside graduate students from five different profession-based training programmes in a structured interprofessional leadership programme. The aims of this summative evaluation study were to elicit the influences of this training model on parents’ capacity to partner with both health professionals and other parents and explore features of the training that facilitated these partnership skills. Using qualitative analysis, a semi-structured interview, guided by sensitising concepts informing leadership development, was conducted with 17 of the 23 parents who participated in the training. Transcriptions of the interviews were used for creating codes and categories for analysis. Parents described how the programme enhanced abilities to see other points of view, skills in communicating across professions, skills in conflict management, and feelings of confidence and equality with providers that influenced their relationships with their own providers and their capacity to assist other parents in addressing challenges in the care of their children. Parents reported that building concrete skills, organised opportunities to hear other viewpoints, structured time for learning and self-reflection, and learning in the context of a trusting relationship facilitated the development of partnership skills. These findings suggest that the leaders of interprofessional training programmes should involve parents and graduate students as equal partners to enhance partnership skills.