An exploration of experts’ perceptions on the use of interprofessional education to support collaborative practice in the care of community-living older adults
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Globally, as older adults are living longer and with more chronic conditions, there is a need to support their ability to age optimally in their homes and communities. Community-based interprofessional teams working closely with these older adults, their families, and informal caregivers will be instrumental in achieving this goal. Interprofessional education (IPE) is the means through which these teams can develop expertise in collaboratively working together with older adults. However, most IPE occurs in academic settings, and acute and long-term care sectors and little is known about IPE in the context of home and community care of older adults. The purpose of this study was to describe perceptions of academic and practice experts related to the current state of IPE in home and community care of older adults and the changes that are necessary to meet the future needs of practitioners and older adults. Using a qualitative descriptive design, interviews were conducted with 32 national and international key informants representing practitioners, educators, researchers, and health system decision-makers in the field of IPE. Thematic analysis of the data identified six themes: (a) client and family-centred care at the core of IPE, (b) the community as a unique learning setting across the learning continuum; (c) an aging-relevant IPE curriculum; (d) faculty commitment and resources for IPE; (e) technological innovation to support IPE; and (f) comprehensive IPE programme evaluation and research. These findings are explored through the lens of an interprofessional learning continuum model. The article concludes with a discussion of the study implications for IPE practice and research specifically in the care of community-living older adults.