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4: Building a Strong Foundation

Mission and Vision Statements

At some point, your MDT may want to develop and adopt a mission and vision statement. Each statement should be brief, one sentence if possible. These statements can reflect either the decisions made so far or can serve to focus the discussions if these statements are adopted prior to discussions about the issues outlined in the Toolkit item: Issues for Initial MDT Discussions.

Vision Statement

The MDT’s vision is a statement of your view of the future. There are numerous resources on the internet for developing your mission and vision statement. An effective vision statement will tell the world what change you wish to create for the future of your community. For example:

Our vision is a community where ________________.

Mission statement

The MDT may want to create a mission statement that defines its purpose and reflects initial decisions. The mission statement provides the team with guidance and motivation and therefore should be a goal(s) that is moderately difficult to achieve. A mission statement should identify and include:

  1. The population or the issue in the community that the partnership is targeting or addressing and

  2. The reason the MDT exists (in some cases, this may serve as the building block of your branding and marketing).

Examples of mission statements include:

To improve the lives of mistreated elders through clinical care, education, and research.

Coalition of Organizations Protecting Elders (COPE) is a community-based team of organizations in Lucas County, Ohio, committed to addressing abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders through enhanced collaboration and coordination of community resources.

The mission of the Clackamas County Vulnerable Adult Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) is to develop a professional team committed to protecting elders and adults with disabilities, herein collectively referred to as “vulnerable adults.”

These statements are critically important to the actions of the MDT so take the time to develop these statements. Your vision and mission statements focus and guide your program so refer to them often when making decisions about your program and ensure that your decisions are in line with these statements. You will want to review your mission and vision statements periodically, even if you decide to retain the current version.

Strategic Planning

At some point in the future, within one year of developing the MDT, many MDTs step back and look at the bigger picture by engaging in a strategic planning process designed to guide the MDT in the coming years (typically, 3 to 5 years into the future) toward achievable goals.

The MDT members will want to think about and eventually decide on how all the team members are going to work together to achieve the stated goal(s). This formalized plan will provide guidance to the MDT, increase accountability, and engender trust. The plan will help create clarity about how the team should operate and how to achieve goals. Consider using existing templates to assist in the development of your strategic plan, and explore tools such as Logic Models, and SMART Goals. Information about and examples of these planning tools are easily located online. Once created, refer frequently to the strategic plan and build in period review sessions to ensure its relevance.

Developing Policies

Eventually, your MDT may want to develop policies (distinct from protocols), but not all communities do so (see examples in the Toolkit item: Sample Protocols and Policies). A policy is a plan or course of action intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and all activities that take place within the boundaries set by them. Policies to discuss include:

  • Bylaws (outlines how the organization is to be governed)

  • Data management

  • Confidentiality (see Chapter 5: Ethical and Legal Considerations)

  • Delivery of services

  • Membership

  • Follow-up

  • Code of ethics (see Toolkit item: List of Professional’s Code of Ethics)

  • Employee/personnel

  • Document retention and destruction

  • Recruitment and selection of new members

  • Financial

  • Media

Plan for Ongoing Maintenance

As with any relationship, the MDT needs ongoing attention. Maintenance and growth of the MDT requires time, effort, and nurturing. Invite MDT members to provide feedback and suggestions regarding procedures and operations of the MDT, preferably at regularly scheduled times such as bi-annually. Managing an MDT requires ongoing commitment and resources, including:

  • Time
  • Ongoing joint training
  • Staff (and staff turnover)
  • Money
  • Developing trust and team building
  • Regular review of policies and procedures
  • Conflict management