'Lost and confused': Parent representative groups' perspectives on child and family health services in Australia

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Primary Health, 2017, 23 (6), pp. 560 - 566
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© La Trobe University 2017. Consumer involvement in health care is widely accepted in policy and service delivery. Australia offers universal health services for families with children aged 0 to 5 years, provided by child and family health nurses and general practitioners. Services include, but are not limited to, monitoring and promoting child health and development, and supporting parents. This paper reports consumer representatives' perspectives on Australian parents' needs and experiences of child and family health services, identifying facilitators and barriers to service utilisation. Twenty-six representatives from consumer organisations explored families' experiences through focus groups. Qualitative data were analysed thematically. Consumer representatives identified several key implications for families using primary health services: feeling 'lost and confused' on the parenting journey; seeking continuity and partnership; feeling judged; and deciding to discontinue services. Participants highlighted accessible, timely, non-judgmental and appropriate interactions with healthcare professionals as vital to positive consumer experiences and optimal health and developmental outcomes. Representatives indicated that families value the fundamentals of well-designed health services: trust, accessibility, continuity, knowledge and approachability. However, both consumers and service providers face barriers to effective ongoing engagement in universally provided services.Journal compilation
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