Research Output
‘There is no other option’: Exploring health care providers' experiences implementing regional multisite midwifery model of care in South Australia
In the past 30 years, 60% of South Australia’s rural maternity units have closed. Evidence demonstrates midwifery models of care offer regional Australia sustainable birthing services. Five birthing sites within the York and Northern Region of South Australia, designed in collaboration with key stakeholders, offered a new all-risk midwifery continuity of care model (MMoC). All pregnant women in the region were allocated to a known midwife once pregnancy was confirmed. In July 2019, the pilot program was implemented and an evaluation undertaken.

The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness, acceptability, and sustainability of the new midwifery model of care from the perspective of health care providers.

The evaluation utilised a mixed methods design using focus groups and surveys to explore experiences of health care providers impacted by the implementation of the MMoC. This paper reports on midwives, doctors and nurses experiences at different time points, to gain insight into the model of care from the care providers impacted by the change to services.

The first round of focus groups included 14 midwives, 6 hospital nurses/midwives and 5 doctors with the overarching theme that the ‘MMoC was working well.’ The second round of focus groups were undertaken across the five sites with 10 midwives, 9 hospital nurses/midwives and 5 doctors. The overarching theme captured all participants commitment to the MMoC, with agreement that ‘there is no other option - it has to work’.

All participants reported positive outcomes and a strong commitment to navigate the changes required to implement the new model of care. Collaboration and communication was expressed as key elements for success. Specific challenges and complexities were evident including a need to clarify expectations and the workload for midwives, and for nurses who were accustomed to having midwives 24 hours a day in hospitals.

This innovative model responds to challenges in providing rural maternity care and offers a sustainable model for maternity services and workforce. There is an overwhelming commitment and consensus that there is ‘no other option–it has to work’.

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    20 November 2023

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McKellar, L., Fleet, J., & Adelson, P. (2024). ‘There is no other option’: Exploring health care providers' experiences implementing regional multisite midwifery model of care in South Australia. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 32(1), 67-79.



continuity of care, maternity services, midwifery, regional/rural midwifery caseload, service redesign

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