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Keywords:

  • multidisciplinary teams;
  • long-term care;
  • teamwork;
  • meaning

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between structure and meaning in multidisciplinary long-term care teams. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 staff working on five multidisciplinary teams in the same long-term care facility in Metropolitan Toronto. Staff in different structural locations have differing meanings of work and teamwork. Direct caregiving nursing staff have simple role-sets, minimal involvement in team decision-making and ritualistic orientations towards their work and teamwork.

Multidisciplinary professionals have complex role-sets, greater involvement in team decision-making and organic orientations towards their work and teamwork. Supervisory nurses are in a contradictory structural location and shared aspects of both orientations to teamwork. The lack of shared meanings results in alienation from work and teamwork for staff in lower structural positions which, in turn, has considerable implications for team functioning.