The Maternity Co-Design Project was undertaken through a phased approach in partnership with our maternity consumers, community members, healthcare partners and our staff from all of our facilities. The aim of the Project was to make maternity care the best it can be for local women, expectant parents and their families.
Consultation for the project was undertaken in two distinct phases:
- Phase one: Develop stakeholder engagement plan, and
- Phase two: Co-Design the future of maternity care.
Co-Design means we listen to your voices and experiences, and work in partnership with you to design maternity care for the future which supports our staff, as well as the many women, babies, and families who access our services.
A total of 956 participants took part in the engagement process throughout the project: 276 in phase one and 680 is phase two.
Throughout phase one and two there was a much higher proportion of females who participated in the project consultation. While there was a spread of participation across age groups, the predominate age group was 25 to 35 years of age.
Participant information, where provided, indicated there was representation from across each of the local government areas, Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac assuming the residential address of the participant correlated to the engagement activity. Participant information indicated;
- 51 per cent were from the Mackay local government area,
- 16 per cent were from the Whitsunday local government area, and
- 9 per cent were from Isaac local government area.
The phase two community survey had the largest participation rate and included the most consistent recording of diversity information. Participation information collected from the survey demonstrated the local community was well represented with;
- 9 per cent of respondents identifying as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and, or Australian South Sea Islander,
- 7 per cent of respondents identifying as being from a culturally and linguistically diverse background,
- 3 per cent of respondents identifying as living with, or caring for someone, who has a disability or chronic health condition, and
- 2 per cent of respondents identifying as LGBTQIA+.
Phase one consultation
What we asked you
The first phase of the project concluded in June 2022. In the first phase we started the conversation with our maternity consumers, community and staff to understand how people would like to be engaged in the project when we commenced consultation and co-design in phase two.
What you told us
We had 258 people from across the region participate in our phase one community and staff surveys.
The majority of respondents were female aged between 25 and 35 years old and identified they had been a consumer of the Women’s Health Unit within the past three years or were planning to access maternity care within the next 18 months. While 80 per cent of respondents felt that they were familiar with maternity services in Mackay.
Community participants indicated their preferred methods to participate in the project, during phase two, would be through online surveys, small face-to-face focus groups and online forums. The preferred method for receiving project updates was through the Mackay HHS Facebook page followed by other existing Facebook community social support groups.
Feedback from our staff was received from a number of multidisciplinary areas including midwifery, nursing, medical, allied health, administration and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit. Our staff indicated that their preferred method to participate in the project, during phase two, would be through online surveys, hard copy surveys and special engagement sessions.
What we did
This information helped us to design consultation methods for phase two including online surveys (with a hard copy printed options), online forums, kitchen table discussions or yarning circles delivered by our Consultation Champions, and face-to-face focus groups right across the region.
Phase two consultation
What we asked
In our phase two consultation, we engaged with our maternity consumers, community, staff and healthcare partners on the future of our maternity care and focussed on collecting feedback about the following three key areas:
- In your experience, what does good maternity care look like?
- In your experience, how do we provide a calm safe environment for all labour and birth, regardless of the place of birth?
- In your experience, what would good communication with women and their families look and feel like?
These themes underpinned all our engagement activities including kitchen table discussions and yarning circles run by our Consultation Champions, our face-to-face focus group sessions, online forums and our online survey. These consultation methods were chosen based one the feedback from phase one consultation where we heard the preferred methods for participation in the project were surveys, face-to-face focus groups and online forums. However, during the phase two consultation what we found was the majority of participants provided their feedback through the surveys and face-to-face focus groups. There was very limited interest and participation in the online forums.
What you told us
Phase two of the project concluded in October 2022 with more than 2,800 pieces of feedback received from 680 participants. The key outcomes from the phase two consultation were consistent across all stakeholder groups, including consumers, community members, healthcare partners and our staff. While the feedback covered a broad spectrum of topics it also highlighted the following top six themes as priorities for all participants of the project:
- Empowering consumers: improve support, access to education and information about the different models of care available across the Mackay HHS, options for comprehensive antenatal care and postnatal care.
- The different models of care available across the Mackay HHS
- Localised pregnancy, birth and child health resources available within each community across the Mackay HHS
- Comprehensive antenatal care
- Immediate after care and debriefs which are provided in hospital
- Postnatal care, with extended care determined by the complexity of women’s needs and is inclusive of access to a lactation consultant, physiotherapist and mental health support.
- Strengthen the workforce: with more medical and midwifery staff who are committed to delivering women-centred care through a collaborative multidisciplinary approach, person-centred care and communication with patients and their support people.
- Rural connections: reduce the burden for women living in rural communities who live a distance from a maternity service through the use of Telehealth or by creating maternity hubs and by reviewing the process for patient travel.
- Continuity of care: for all women, regardless of risk.
- Partnerships: improve connections with external providers including general practitioners, community support workers and private practice midwives.
- Supports: improve support for women experiencing, or who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss, by:
- Holding an annual memorial or by participating in the local existing community event
- Providing access to a Butterfly Room with outdoor access
- Providing an option to have an identifying sticker placed on the front of medical records for specialist care.
- Not staying within the Women’s Health Unit to receive care.
What happens next
Consultation for the Maternity Co-Design Project has now closed. The outcomes of the Project have now been fed into the newly-established Mackay Obstetrics and Gynaecology Implementation Working Group which has a wide range of representation including consumers, midwives, nurses, doctors and members of the executive leadership team. This group is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the recommendations from the Independent Obstetrics and Gynaecology Investigation. Outcomes from the Maternity Co-Design Project along with the Investigation recommendations have been aligned and will help inform and guide the future direction of maternity care for the Mackay HHS.
Throughout 2023 there will be opportunities for consumers to contribute to the work of the Implementation Working Group. These opportunities are currently in development and will be shared via our website and emailed to our subscribers. Register for updates here.
Thank you to everyone who participated and supported this Project. Together we are helping shape the future of maternity care across the Mackay HHS.