The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Group set to guide service overhaul
“We really value the feedback and it’s going to be vital to achieving our goal of creating a more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable maternity service for the future. I am so excited to have launched this project and I’ve had some great feedback already. I’m looking forward to hearing from the community about what they want from their maternity service” – Michelle Coutts
Wimmera-southern Mallee residents have an opportunity to provide input into a complete overhaul of maternity services to meet the current and future needs of birthing women in the region.
Wimmera Health Care Group nurse-midwife unit manager Michelle Coutts announced in The Weekly Advertiser last week the organisation was working to introduce a new model of care.
She said as part of the service overhaul, project leaders would consider an extensive consumer and stakeholder feedback process.
Mrs Coutts has invited applications for a WHCG Maternity Consumer Advisory Group, which will help create ‘a more contemporary, evidence-based maternity service’.
“The primary purpose of our new Maternity Consumer Advisory Group is to contribute to developing a maternity service that meets the current and future needs of birthing women in the Wimmera,” she said.
“We are seeking expressions of interest from consumers of maternity services who would like to advise the project on consumer and community views so they are recognised and reflected in service delivery, planning and policy development.
“We would also be seeking advice and feedback on new materials that we are developing for consumer information and childbirth and breastfeeding education.”
Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham provides obstetric services for women in Horsham Rural City, Hindmarsh, West Wimmera, Northern Grampians and Yarriambiack municipalities, primarily on a ‘shared care’ basis between midwives and obstetric doctors.
The health-care group is considering introducing the caseload model, described as the ‘gold standard’ of maternity care.
The model is based on the principle of continuity of care and involves one midwife – and back-up midwives – taking care of a woman throughout pregnancy, labour, birth, postnatal stay and home visits.
“This project is absolutely about improving the collaboration between the obstetric, midwifery and allied health workforce and each discipline working to their full scope and areas of expertise,” Mrs Coutts said.
“We are seeking up to six maternity consumers to be part of this advisory group.
“I would really like to see a wide representation of birthing women from across the Wimmera – inclusive of partners.
“You don’t necessarily have to have birthed at Wimmera Base Hospital to be part of this group.”
From January 2020 until now, Wimmera Health Care Group has recorded 476 births. Of those, 220 women, or 46 percent, live in Horsham, 66 or 14 percent in Hindmarsh Shire, 29 or six percent in West Wimmera Shire and 18 or four percent in Buloke-northern Grampians shires.
Currently, 131 women are booked to birth at Wimmera Base Hospital, including 70 from
Horsham, 15 from Yarriambiack and 17 from Hindmarsh.
Mrs Coutts said she was hoping the consumer group would attract applicants from all four corners of the catchment area, as well as Horsham.
“The needs of women in Nhill or Hopetoun are often very different from the needs of women living in Horsham,” she said.
“Meetings will be monthly at this stage but might be called more frequently if required.
“The group might also be asked to occasionally participate in other working groups that comprise the entire maternity project.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions at the present time, we will have to meet online, but as soon as we can resume face-to-face meetings we will.”
Mrs Coutts is in the process of finalising details for additional working groups, along with a ‘road trip’ to engage consumers throughout the catchment.
“I want to travel throughout the Wimmera to target playgroups, kindergartens and so on, to create some informal focus groups,” she said.
“That’s on hold at the moment until COVID restrictions ease, because I really want to do the focus groups face to face and not online.
“We really want to give women an opportunity to share their stories and opinions in a very safe and informal space and I don’t think doing it over a screen allows that.
“Once the government announces an easing of restrictions that will enable us to meet face to face, we will provide the community with further details.”
Expressions of interest
Mrs Coutts said people could email expressions of interest to join the advisory group to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 5381 9035 for more information.
She said people could also provide feedback on a once-off basis via email or phone.
“We really value the feedback and it’s going to be vital to achieving our goal of creating a more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable maternity service for the future,” she said.
“I am so excited to have launched this project and I’ve had some great feedback already.
“I’m looking forward to hearing from the community about what they want from their maternity service.”