Local maternity service applauded in milestone review

Dhelkaya Health’s Maternity Service has received a glowing review from women who gave birth at the service in its first year of operation. The feedback from the women was gathered as part of a formal evaluation review undertaken by La Trobe University.

Publication of the evaluation report was celebrated at an event held at Buda Historic Home & Garden in early March. The event was attended by local GP obstetricians, Bendigo Health, La Trobe University researchers, Dhelkaya Health staff, and representatives from Dhelkaya Health’s Board of Directors and committees.

Dhelkaya Health CEO, Sue Race said: “This report gives us confidence that the model is working. It equips us to be both responsible and responsive and to offer the care pathways which meet individual needs and preferences. It also maps the priority issues we need to navigate for sustainable growth.”

The service which reopened in March 2021 offers a model of care that sees Midwifery Group Practice midwives working collaboratively with GP Obstetricians for women with low risk pregnancies. The relationship with Bendigo Health enables collaborative shared care, and complex maternity care when needed.

Dr Méabh Cullinane and Dr Laura Whitburn, two of the La Trobe University researchers who also spoke at the launch event about the project, explained how the evaluation process involved speaking with clinical and non-clinical staff including GP obstetricians, midwives, governance officers, safety and quality staff, Board Directors and executive staff at Dhelkaya Health and Bendigo Health.

The research team’s work also included in-depth consultation with women to explore their satisfaction with the service, their clinical outcomes and the workings of the collaborative relationship between Dhelkaya Health and Bendigo Health. The voices of local women birthing in Castlemaine played a critical role in this evaluation.

The report concluded that the maternity care model is highly valued by staff, women and the community. Midwifery Group Practice midwives were found to be working within their full scope of practice and were fully supported by committed GP Obstetricians working within the model, and by Bendigo Health.

Elloise Richards who recently gave birth to her first child spoke glowingly about her own experience of Dhelkaya Health’s Maternity Service: “We walked away looking forward to our next visit. I was seen for who I am and my needs were supported. Our midwife even helped to connect us to our community.”

April Jardine, Dhelkaya Health’s Maternity Clinical Coordinator and Educator, talked about the importance of supporting midwives to use their full range of their skills and providing space for them to build supportive relationships with mothers and partners along the continuum of pregnancy, birth and parenthood. She also highlighted the consultative process for forming the model and praised the work of the evaluation team.

In her concluding remarks, CEO Sue Race said: “Our service has a great future and it is wonderful to have our dedicated midwives who have a pivotal role in its future development. Their care is rightly valued by the women who choose to birth with us and all staff involved deserve the praise that is evident in the feedback. It has been a great outcome for the Mount Alexander community.”

Dhelkaya Health acknowledges the support of Safer Care Victoria and the strong partnership with Bendigo Health that have enabled the service’s success. The evaluation report is available in full to read on our Maternity Services website.

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