Process lessons from evaluating a combined continuity of carer and home birth scheme

Andrew Symon, Shona Shinwell, Justine Craig

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    Abstract

    Introduction: Continuity of midwifery carer improves outcomes, but there is significant variation in how such schemes are implemented and evaluated cross‐culturally. The Angus home birth scheme in Scotland incorporates continuity of carer throughout pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postnatal period.

    Methods: Manual maternity case note review to evaluate the 80% continuity of carer and 3% planned home birth rate targets.

    Results: Of 1466 women booking for maternity care, 69 joined the scheme. Forty‐four had a planned home birth (3% overall), of whom seven were originally deemed ineligible. Of the 44, eight (18%) also achieved 80% continuity of carer with the primary midwife; by including a home birth team colleague, the continuity rate rose to 73%. Women whose care achieved home birth and continuity targets had lower deprivation scores. Eligibility issues, women's changing circumstances, and data recording lapses were complicating issues.

    Conclusions: Targets must be both feasible and meaningful and should be complemented by assessing a broad range of outcomes while viewing the scheme holistically. By expanding eligibility criteria, the home birth rate target was met; including input from a home birth team colleague in the calculation meant the continuity target was nearly met. With dedicated and competent staff, adequate resource and political support, and when considered in the round, the scheme's viability within local services was confirmed. Other generalizable learning points included the need to standardize definitions and data recording methods. Comparability across schemes helps grow the evidence base so that the links between processes and outcomes can be identified.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)389-396
    Number of pages8
    JournalBirth
    Volume47
    Issue number4
    Early online date1 Dec 2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Keywords

    • caseload midwifery
    • continuity of carer
    • home birth
    • maternal choice
    • record keeping
    • socioeconomic inequality

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