'It looks good on paper': Transitions of care between midwives and child and family health nurses in New South Wales

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2009, 22 (2), pp. 64 - 72
Issue Date:
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Background: The way in which women and their babies transition from maternity services to the care of child and family health nurses differs across Australia. The aim of the study was to understand the transition of care from one service to another and how to promote collaboration in the first few weeks after the birth. Method: A descriptive study was undertaken. All midwifery, child and family health and Families NSW managers in NSW were invited to participate by completing a questionnaire. Results: There was a wide range of transition of care models. These varied by setting, geography, context and history. Three main models emerged from the analysis. These were as follows:1.Structured, non-verbal communication system that relied on paper-based or computerised systems. This included either centralised referral or centre-based referral processes.2.Liaison person model which was similar to purposeful contact, but with everything vested in one clinician who is responsible for the coordination and organisation.3.Purposeful contact model which was mostly for identified at-risk women and included continuity of care with formal networks and face to face contact. Discussion: There were a range of different models of transition of care identified in NSW depending on local context, expertise, interests and policies. Some are very structured and others have developed and evolved over time. Many models seem to be dependant on the goodwill and enthusiasm of individual clinicians. Conclusion: A more coordinated and systematised approach needs to be developed. Collaboration and communication between midwives and child and family health nurses is essential if the needs of families are to be addressed during this transition period. © 2009 Australian College of Midwives.
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