Continuity of carer

The extent of continuity of carer is a measure of the one-to-one care provided by the same named caregiver across the continuum of maternity care. Over one-third (38%) of models have no continuity of carer in any stage of the maternity period, which means there is no named carer assigned to each woman and care is given by different providers. Around one-third of models have continuity of carer for some part of the maternity period, for example the antenatal period only (17%), or the antenatal and postnatal periods (12%). Just under one-third of models (30%) have continuity of carer through the whole duration of the maternity period, meaning a single named designated carer provides or leads the majority of care for the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal periods. This is higher in Queensland (40%) and South Australia (38%) and may be related to the higher number of models classified as midwifery group practice caseload care. The data visualisation below shows maternity models of care, by the extent of their continuity of carer, for each state and territory.

Proportion of models of care, by continuity of carer, Australia, 2021.

The bar chart in the data visualisation shows the proportion of maternity models of care by the extent of their continuity of carer, for Australia and for each state and territory. Over one-third (38%) of models of care have no continuity of carer at any stage of the maternity period. Around one-third have continuity of carer for some part of the maternity period, for example the antenatal period only, or the antenatal and postnatal periods. Just under one-third (30%) have continuity of carer through the whole duration of the maternity period.

The extent of continuity of carer varies by the type of major model category. Models classified as midwifery group practice caseload care, by definition, have continuity of carer across the whole duration of the maternity period. Models classified as private midwifery care, and private obstetrician (specialist) care also have high levels of continuity of carer across the whole duration of the maternity period (100% and 89% of models in these categories, respectively). In contrast, models classified as team midwifery care, by definition, have no continuity of carer at any stage of the maternity period. Models classified as public hospital maternity care or public hospital high-risk maternity care are also more likely to have no continuity of carer (57% and 55% of models in these categories, respectively).

The extent of continuity of carer also varies by the type of designated carer. Models of care with a designated carer of midwife—privately practising, or specialist obstetrician—private, are more likely to have continuity of carer across the whole duration of the maternity period (90% and 82%, respectively). In contrast, models of care with a designated carer of specialist obstetrician—public are more likely to have no continuity of carer at any stage of the maternity period (80%).

The data visualisation below shows the extent of continuity of carer by major model category and the type of designated carer.

Extent of continuity of carer, by major model category and designated carer, Australia, 2021.

There are 2 bar charts in the data visualisation. The first shows the extent of continuity of carer by major model category. Models classified as midwifery group practice caseload care, have continuity of carer across the whole duration of the maternity period. Models classified as private obstetrician (specialist) care also have high levels of continuity of carer across the whole duration of the maternity period (89%). In contrast, models classified as team midwifery care have no continuity of carer at any stage of the maternity period and models classified as public hospital maternity care or public hospital high-risk maternity care are also more likely to have no continuity of carer (57% and 55%, respectively). The second chart shows the extent of continuity of carer by type of designated carer. Models with a designated carer of midwife—privately practising or specialist obstetrician—private, are more likely to have continuity of carer across the whole duration of the maternity period (90% and 82%, respectively). In contrast, models of care with a designated carer of specialist obstetrician—public are more likely to have no continuity of carer at any stage of the maternity period (80%).