The Importance of Working Across Boundaries to Meet the Needs of People with Complex Needs

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Multi-agency working refers to where organizations combine, allowing the workers to operate across many people, in offering services to people with several and complex needs.  Working in a multi-agency form contributes to providing effective support. One way that multi-agency working provides effective support is when companies work together as a result of the consensus achieved. In that case, the organizations develop a deeper understanding of what is needed and thus implemented. Multi-agency working provides better support by establishing improved cohesiveness. Teamwork is essential in offering support because the workers operate towards a similar goal which leads to quality services. Apart from that, teamwork that is established by cohesiveness boosts problem-solving, where the stakeholders handle problems on time, thus preventing the effects from reaching the end users.   This paper examines the concept of multi-agency working and how the concept is applied in providing people with complex needs.

The Concept of Collaborative and Multi-Agency Working

Collaborative working, also called joint or partnership working refers to the different ways that two or more institutions agree to work together.  For example, they would establish informal networks and alliances by a combined delivery of initiatives.  The networks would run for a fixed length of time or permanent planning where the organizations merge entirely.  Regardless of the length of time, collaborative working involves aspects of exchange, mainly for mutual advantages that improve the end users. In recent times, the idea of collaborative working has been implemented by many companies, especially when effectiveness and efficiency are key values of functions. There are several types of collaborative working that organizations would engage, one being the separated form. In this case, companies operate independently but join in some activities. Also, multi-agency working allows for the sharing of resources, where the institutions with resources that other companies require work together to help the organizations lacking the resources. Joint working, on the other hand, is where a recent organization combines its operations with another one in some ways (Naeem et al., 2016).In the group structure type, there is a parent company that controls a number of subsidiary companies. Lastly, is the merger type, where organizations combine their functions making one company.

Collaborative working is a key aspect to consider in providing effective support. One of the reasons is on establishing a learning culture. When organizations decide to work together, workers and other stakeholders get the chance to learn ways of solving problems and grabbing new opportunities (Cowley et al., 2015, pp. 470).  These factors indicate that people are no longer in their comfort zone. As a result, the people benefiting from the collaborative working are given better services. In a collaborative working environment, a longer view of operations is taken. Even though working together does not necessarily mean that things would work out, but it is better than working alone. Multi-agency working provides better results because people raise different ideas considering the support being offered and the most suitable option is considered.  By that, the end product, which is support, is reliable and the chances of making the wrong decisions are reduced. 

In addition, an accelerated business velocity is experienced, in collaborative working.  The phrase that ‘two heads are better than one' is considered here, where combing leads to better decisions being considered and thus reduced mistakes are expected. With that,   the growth of the support being given is realized, thus making the end users benefit more. Apart from that, the collaborative working leads to a higher retention rate of workers. In the current market, organizations that retain the workers are in a better position than the rest, because they spend less on training. Also, the needs of the people benefiting from the organization are met, as the workers serving them are experienced in working in that organization, which reduces errors.

Working in a multi-urgency manner boosts relationship among workers; an important aspect is providing support to communities. Multi-agency working is associated with building strong relationships since a strong relationship leads to better communication, where the workers transfer information at the right time and in the right manner. As a result, issues experienced when the communication plan is poor, are avoided. The scale of coverage is also increased when the multi-agency working is implemented.  The key factor that contributes to the improved scale of coverage is that the companies get the chance to reach many people, as the resources needed are afforded because the companies combine efforts (Walker 2018).  By that, effective support is given, which is not only of quality but also covers a large population. The aspect illustrates that the multi-agency working boosts both the quality and quantity of support for people with complex needs. 

Importance of Working across Boundaries to meet the needs of people with Complex Needs

Meeting the needs of the people with multiple and complex needs, for example, vulnerable children and the aged is not a simple task. Due to that, working across boundaries, where institutions collaborate is necessary for several ways. One is that it leads to a better way of sharing key information. Notably, helping this person needs a lot of research and information, to identify the exact challenges facing them and thus determine the ways to support them. On the other hand, collecting information about people is a hard task, as most of them fear stigmatization (Paul et al., 2015, pp. 440). When workers operate across boundaries, key information is provided to different organizations, which simplifies the process of identifying the issues.  For example, when one organization collects the information, the rest do not necessarily need to do so, which reduces costs and also ensures a better way of meeting their needs. 

The other benefit of working across boundaries is that time wastage, and duplication of information is reduced. Time wastage is reduced regarding the process of data collection (Gridley et al., 2014, pp. 590). As said above,   collecting information about the populations with multiple and complex needs is hard, as these are the people whose needs are not prioritized. When organizations work together, the process becomes easy because data collected by one organization would be shared with the others. As a result, the rest will not collect information from the same place but would move to those that the other organizations have not collected.  By that, the data collected is large, which improves the understanding of the issues affecting the populations. By that, the wellbeing of the people is improved, because the needed data is available. Apart from that, duplication of information is also reduced, which not only reduces costs but also enables the organizations to have extensive information.

Good support is also ensured when working across boundaries is ensured. By good support, it means that the service users of the multiple and complex needs services benefit better when organization collaborates (Gridley et al., 2014, pp. 590). Notably, dealing with these populations is complicated as said above. By that, one organization cannot manage meeting the needs of the people due to the complexity. Nevertheless, when organizations work together, through the different types of collaboration listed above, the complexity is reduced, as ways to handle the issues are developed.  Solving the problems experienced in assisting these people also becomes easy for the organizations. As a result, better support is given. For example, identifying the vulnerable children in society is tough, as the society does not offer enough information. As a result, different agencies have to apply methods like observation, to identify them.  The approach, however, is an expensive method of data collection, but in a collaborative environment, it is cheaper. As a result, all the suffering kids in society would receive support, which is quality.

The wellbeing of the service users is also improved, as the workers know what is expected from them. Notably, supporting the populations with multiple and complex needs does not only mean solving the issues, but more so the method used to support them (Gridley et al. 2014, p. 590). The idea is attributed to the fact that one would use a method that supports them, that would raise legal issues. By workers operating across boundaries, they learn the critical aspects that must be ensured in supporting the groups.  For example, the populations should be respected, regardless of the problem they are experiencing. Respecting involves many aspects, like knowing the culture of the person and working based on their expectations. Considering that complexity of the work, the organizations that collaborate manage meeting these requirements as they educate each other, regarding the various populations. In other words, it would be said that working across boundaries boosts a holistic type of care, where the employees know all the necessary factors to consider in supporting the populations.

Potential Barriers to Effective Communication in a Networked Team Environment

Working across boundaries means operating in a networked team environment where organizations work as a team. Even though working across boundaries is useful in improving the wellbeing of the service users, several barriers exist, which would alter the process of supporting populations with multiple and complex issues. To start with, is the issue of shift work, one of the characteristics of working in a networked environment. As said above, duplication of work is avoided when organizations collaborate. Collaboration means that the organizations work in shifts, with different roles that are meant to improve the well-being of the vulnerable people. Working in shifts is problematic, especially when one of the organizations does not execute its roles at the right time (You et al. 2015, p. 550).  Also, shift working would lead to the collection of wrong information, because only one or few agencies collect data, which would be used by all the partners.

The other problem in working in a networked team environment is a higher staff turn-over.  Employee turn-over refers to where some workers leave the organization and are replaced by new employees. In a networked form of work, communication is an issue, because all the stakeholders are not involved in critical aspects like decision making, as the number is too large (Lundgren and McMakin 2018). As a result, most of the employees develop the attitude that they are not useful to the organizations which make them move to other job areas where they would feel worth.  A high employee turn-over leads to financial issues because of the increased cost of recruiting and training the new workers.  Although the collaborative way of working leads to a closer engagement of workers between the joining organizations, retaining them in the organization is tough as the needs of the vulnerable populations are prioritized. 

Communication barriers between the staff and the service users are also experienced in operating a networked system. As said above, the collaborative type of work means that organizations do not handle a specific population, but moves across many of them. This alters the communication with the populations as they do not spend enough time with them. On the other hand, establishing a close relationship with the vulnerable people is important, as one would easily identify the problems affecting g them and together, develop a plan to solve the issue (Lundgren and McMakin 2018). Improving communication is also helpful, as it makes the people feel accepted, a factor that contributes much to support them.  With the presence of communication barriers, it means that not all problems facing the populations are solved. Also, the challenge prevents most of the vulnerable people from knowing that support groups exist, leading to the suffering.  It is due to this problem that the rate of deaths of the people with multiple and complex needs is high.

Lastly, is the problem in communication with the people facing complex problems. Notably, most of the populations with multiple and complex needs, have difficulties in communication.  For example, autistic people do not manage to communicate and develop a reasonable relationship with other people. This is mostly experienced while identifying the problems facing them, where other people are involved, for example, the family. However, collecting information from families is a challenge because the inaccurate information would be given. Other vulnerable people with no mental conditions may fear to talk the truth, with the fear that they would be denied the support they get from the family.  For example, where an elderly person is discriminated in the family, due to dependency, the person would not reveal this to the support groups, with the fear that the family members would become hostile.

How Good Practice Contributes To the Effectiveness of A Multi-Agency Team

Although challenges exist in supporting populations with multiple and complex needs as discussed above, ways to prevent the issues are important so that the wellbeing of these people is improved. In doing so, good practice should be implemented, which refers to the techniques that are accepted by organizations because they yield the expected outcomes.  The aspect of good practice has been discussed, where the different elements have been identified.  For example, after the Winterbourne scandal, a national view of the issue was published, where people described what is expected for services to be based on good practice (Serrat 2017, p. 909).

One of the elements is on care plan development, where the service user is involved. Even though this is not always applicable, especially while dealing with mental populations, the patients should be given the central role in developing a care plan. This means that the people decide what they want and how they want it done.  Involving the populations in developing care plans would eliminate the barrier of communication issues, where the people would have ample time with the support organizations. By that, the people would be satisfied with the services, meaning that their needs would be met. The other way of ensuring good practice is sharing positive elements that ought to adhere. Such sharing is possible with the collaborating system, where different organizations share ideas on how to maximize benefits to the service users. One way of doing this is solving problems, where the organizations would work to ensure that the preventable barriers are supporting the vulnerable populations are handled. For example, the support organizations would encourage each other on understanding the culture of the people, so as not to offend them in the process of supporting them. 

A good practice is also ensured when team leading skills are implemented. For example, there should be a clear communicator that conveys information among the collaborated organizations and also with the service users. The organization is the other important skill, where the leaders should ensure that operations are arranged rightly, to avoid duplication or omission of some activities. Apart from that, respect, fairness and kindness skills should be upheld.  Upholding such values involves handling all employees in the right manner, regardless of the color, race, sex, and originality.  Where the team leading skills are ensured, the high employee turnover experienced in working in a networked environment would be prevented.  A good practice is also evidenced where employees work as effective team members. Productive membership means that an individual observes personal and interrelationship skills (Bratton and Gold 2017). For example, employees should ensure that they communicate professionally and respect all people.  They should also develop reliable ways of solving conflicts that come up in the workplace.  Effective conflict resolution would prevent the issue of shifts taking, where each organization would play its rightful role in improving the wellbeing of the vulnerable populations. Adhering to the codes of practice is the other element of good practice in supporting the vulnerable populations.  Some of the necessary codes are informed consent, respect, integrity, confidentiality, and openness.   Employees should ensure that the developed care plans adhere to the normal codes of conduct in dealing with these populations. Whistleblowing is also necessary, where employees raise and address the issues that may alter the support process.


Basing the paper on multi-agency working in dealing with the vulnerable populations, it is evident that collaboration is essential.  Key information is shared, time wastage is prevented and a reliable support is offered thus improving the wellbeing of the people with complex needs. Even though communication challenges in dealing with a networked system are problematic, the situation would be prevented by the implementation of good practice, which encompasses such elements as teamwork, effective communication, and outstanding leadership.


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October 24, 2023

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