Shared Care Maternity Network Supporting Key Improvements to Perinatal Care

Shared Care’s Maternity Network is bringing family practitioners, obstetricians, and registered midwife leads together to improve the quality of maternity care. Through various recently ended, ongoing, and developing projects, the network is creating opportunities for improved care and a better patient experience through pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood. Here are a few examples of the important work funded and supported by the Shared Care Committee in improving maternity care in BC:

Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice Shared Care Maternity Initiative

Since 2019, the Fraser Northwest (FNW) Division of Family Practice has been involved with the Shared Care Maternity Network. By focusing on a number of key areas of improvement, they’ve worked to improve perinatal care through a series of resources and learnings based on the combined experiences of a variety of perinatal care professionals. 

Virtual maternity hub

In a digital world, especially in a time where demand for telehealth hit all-time highs, accurate information and perinatal support was becoming more difficult to access. 

"Our goal was to improve patient access to postpartum support, in particular around breastfeeding and mental health," explains Dr. Kathy Jones.

So, the Fraser Northwest Divisions of Family Practice set out to create one, digital, and local resource for all things pregnancy and newborn care. This knowledge-sharing hub contains useful information on topics like vaccinations, virtual classes, local breastfeeding resources, mental health, and many others.

Newborn discharge summary

The Newborn Discharge Summary was created to address communication concerns and lack of information sharing between maternity care providers and FNW family physicians. 

The group received feedback from family physicians that the newborn consult report does not always reach the family physician’s office once mother-and-child are discharged from the hospital. This leaves the primary care provider unaware of important discharge information. Additionally, a large proportion of moms and babies are being discharged without a family doctor, leaving a gap in communication for the provider that will assume follow-up care. 

The project implemented a simple discharge summary that can be given to patients at discharge to take to their primary care provider. The summary contains basic information related to pregnancy, labor and delivery, birth weight, discharge weight and delivery date. The discharge summary has been adopted in the Royal Columbia Hospital maternity ward and has also been shared with FNW’s membership for awareness. 

She Found Motherhood

Drs. Sarah Lea and Alicia Power have a passion for maternity and family care. One thing they noticed patient after patient was just how difficult it was for new and expecting moms to keep up with pregnancy and postpartum education. At the same time, they noticed that online resources and podcasts were becoming a popular delivery method for education in the 2020s. So, they set out to fill a gap.

She Found Health, an online community built by Lea and Power, seeks to facilitate access to relevant, evidence-based health information and resources to empower mothers in their journey from pregnancy to parenthood. Through Instagram, TikTok and other social media sites, they fulfill the need for maternity education while delivering it to moms in the most convenient way possible. The centrepiece of the community, the She Found Motherhood podcast, has over 75,000 downloads and is rife with reviews like “so refreshing to hear evidence-based information in a relatable way” and “very informative while still being fun and lighthearted”.

Check out the latest episode below:

Thriving Families: Providing Early Parenting Interventions to Raise Resilient Kids

An often-not-talked-about aspect of parenthood is the mental health difficulties post-partum. Similar to the CBT Skills Group program, the Raising Resilient Kids program will create early, evidence-based, equitable, and accessible group intervention sessions. These will especially benefit parents who are at high risk for mental health difficulties in their families.

"We wanted to address the poor accessibility to publicly funded, reflective parenting groups," says Dr. Joanna Cheek, a Victoria-based psychiatrist.

The project hopes to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by improving both the parents’ distress, mental health symptoms, and capacity to healthily provide a safe environment for their children.

"So, while our project is just raising resilient kids, we've also added postpartum groups for parents who struggle with postpartum anxiety or depression—all within the same CBT Skills environment," explains Dr. Cheek.

The project group hopes that, by leveraging their previous experience with the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skill Group, they can continue to expand the types of group medical visits that are offered. These, they expect, will help give family physicians the training and confidence they need to provide for patients with emerging mental health care needs.

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