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The Team Approach to managing Parkinson's disease

“An effective team delivers care that is greater than the sum of its parts”


  • The European Parkinson’s Disease Association and the World Health Organisation have published a charter of rights for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). This states that people with PD have the right to:
  • -be referred to a doctor with a special interest in PD
  • -receive an accurate diagnosis
  • -have access to support services
  • -receive continuous care
  • -take part in managing their illness
  • If this standard of care is to be achieved routinely, then management of the multiple physical, psychological and social effects of PD demands a coordinated team approach. No one professional - even a PD specialist - can have all the knowledge and expertise that is required.
  • Central to the team is the person with PD and their family. They live with the condition 24 hours a day and soon become experts. If health and social care professionals acknowledge patient and carer expertise and work together with them, then outcomes are likely to be most satisfactory for all.

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  • Research has shown that people with PD and their carers often feel that they are not adequately informed about all the professionals and interventions that might help them. In particular, they feel uncertain about the role of non-drug treatments. Some carers feel uncertain about how or when to start providing care and express need for guidance.

  • Team management is therefore best conducted within protocols designed to make best use of individuals’ team roles and functions. Personal treatment plans help patients to navigate the complexities of multi-professional care and should ensure that their own views and preferences are integral to management.

  • Despite the lack of hard evidence of efficacy, most therapists claim that their intervention should begin early in the course of the illness, in order to establish a useful rehabilitation program and to prevent avoidable disability and handicap. Therefore a close working relationship between patient, carer and medical, nursing and therapy staff is essential.
  • Continual dialogue is the key to a successful team approach. Both sufferers and professionals have much to learn from each other. Improved interaction will reduce the problems associated with the limited number of specialized PD centres, complements rather then challenges communication skills and lack of expertise, and fosters a partnership that is essential for better outcomes.


MacMahon DG, Thomas S. Practical approach to quality of life in Parkinson’s disease. J Neurol 1998; 245 (suppl 1): S19-22.

Bhatia K, Brooks D, Burn D et al. Updated guidelines for the management of Parkinson’s disease.  Hosp Med 2001; 62: 456-70.

This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris