Three maternity care pathways for local women

Castlemaine women will be able to access locally-based maternity care via three distinct pathways under Castlemaine Health’s new collaborative model of care.

The new model of care has been endorsed by the Castlemaine Health Executive Board and the Castlemaine Maternity Service Governance Committee, which is comprised of members of the Castlemaine Health Board, staff members, consumers, Safer Care Victoria, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Foundation, Victorian Branch.

It affirms the clear choice of Castlemaine women and families to have locally-based services in their community where it is safe and appropriate.

The model will see midwives, doctors, allied health and support services working together to care for women, babies and families throughout pregnancy, birth and early parenting. It will also rely on strong relationships with Bendigo Health, our regional health service.

“Our aim has always been to deliver a maternity service to the community that is safe, accessible, equitable and woman centred,” says Castlemaine Health CEO Ian Fisher.

“Under the new model all women will be able to receive maternity care that is suited to their needs, close to home and community, with clear pathways to Bendigo Health as needed.”

To receive care at Castlemaine Health, women will be able to self-refer or have their General Practitioner or General Practitioner Obstetrician refer them into the maternity service. Self-referral is a new feature that gives women the option to enter the service directly and receive pregnancy care by midwives.

“Ensuring our maternity services are accessible to as many women and their families as possible is very important,” says Ian Fisher.

“This free, self-referral option will enable women to build a strong relationship with a primary midwife before going into labour.”

Three pathways for care

All women who enter the service at Castlemaine Health will have a primary midwife who will care for them throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth and early parenting, both in hospital and at home after the birth of their baby.

Evidence demonstrates that women experience better outcomes when they build a strong relationship with a known midwife. Consumers also identified continuity of care, where a known caregiver is with them throughout their experience, as something they valued in a maternity service.

Midwives will collaborate with General Practice Obstetricians throughout a woman’s pregnancy, birth and early parenting to ensure she receives the right level of care, access to any health care professionals she may require and experiences a smooth transition between Castlemaine Health and any other health service if this is necessary.

At the beginning of her care a woman will be allocated a pathway based on her needs, her preference and her clinical profile. A panel of senior Castlemaine Health midwives, local General Practitioner Obstetricians and senior Bendigo Health clinical staff will be involved in this decision for every woman. This ensures consistency of clinical practice and a smooth transition between the services should this be required.

Women will be able to move easily between pathways, should the need arise, without interruption to their care.

Women who are considered low risk and appropriate for care at Castlemaine Health will be able to choose between:

Midwifery Group Practice: where the woman will be cared for by a primary known midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and early parenting.

Collaborative Shared Care: where the woman will receive pregnancy care from their chosen General Practice Obstetrician and a known midwife. Their midwife will then provide care for labour and birth and early parenting.

A third pathway, Complex Maternity Care, will be available to women who are not suitable for care at Castlemaine Health due to a higher risk profile. These women will be cared for at Bendigo Health or a higher-level service but may be suitable for transfer back to Castlemaine Health for care after the birth of their baby.

“We believe this new model of care, with its focus on collaboration, shared decision making and strong professional relationships will have a positive impact on a woman’s birth choices and her experience,” says Ian Fisher.

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