Maternity models of care

What is a ‘model of care’?

A maternity model of care describes how a group of women are cared for during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, that is, how maternity care is provided. This includes identifying:

  • the women a model is designed for
  • the maternity carers involved and the role they play
  • aspects of how and where care is provided.

Based on these characteristics, each model of care can be grouped into one of 11 major model categories.

Why do we need to classify them? 

Around 300,000 babies are born in Australia each year and while women have some choice around the health providers and care they receive during the maternity period this may depend on where they live and their individual circumstances. Most maternity models of care in Australia include care in either a public or private hospital setting. An Australian Government report on improving maternity services in Australia recommended some changes to improve choices for women and the range of models of care available to them (DoHA 2009); the values of safety, respect, choice, and access, underpin strategic directions that aim to see the range of maternity models of care available across Australia expanded (COAG 2019).  To monitor the models of care available to and utilised by women requires the collection of this information in a standardised way.

What is the Maternity Care Classification System?

The Maternity Care Classification System (MaCCS) is a standardised nomenclature for maternity models of care. It can be used to identify, describe, and report on the range of maternity models of care available to women in Australia. Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, the MaCCS was developed by the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit at the University of New South Wales and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), as part of the National Maternity Data Development Project (AIHW 2014a, 2016a, 2018). This involved consultation with a range of stakeholders across the country (AIHW 2014b, 2016b).

The MaCCS underpins the AIHW’s maternity models of care data collection and the Model of Care National Best Practice Data Set (MoC NBPDS). The MoC NBPDS contains information about the models of care available at maternity services across Australia. Collecting this data on models of care has also facilitated the inclusion of model of care data elements into the National Perinatal Data Collection (NPDC) with 2 model of care data elements added to the specifications for this collection in July 2020.

The AIHW would like to thank and acknowledge the maternity services and jurisdictions that contribute to the maternity models of care data collection. While this release reports on the characteristics of the models themselves, the AIHW plans to use models of care data from the NPDC to report on the models of care women use, as this data becomes available. In the 2021 NPDC, Queensland maternity services collected models of care information for all women giving birth in their jurisdiction. In the AIHW report Maternity models of care in focus, Queensland perinatal data and models of care information from the MoC NBPDS are linked and used as a case study to explore the number of women using different models of care in Queensland, whether these vary by maternal characteristics, and outcomes for mothers and babies based on the model of care used. Similar information from other jurisdictions will be available in future years.