Evaluating Organisational Cultural Competence in Maternity Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

A/Prof Robyn Aitken1, Associate Professor  Virginia  Skinner2, Ms Louise Clark1

1Menzies School Of Health Research and Top End Health Service, Charles Darwin University, Australia, 2Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Northern Territory Department of Health

Reducing health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and babies compared to non-Indigenous Australians is essential to the closing the gap strategy (COAG 2011), and a core component of CRANAplus member’s work. This AHMAC funded research assessed the progress of Australian publicly funded maternity services in achieving the goal of organisational culturally competent maternity care. Technology was used to measure the degree to which these services have incorporated identified characteristics into the fabric of their organisation, producing an evidence based validated on-line tool.

Results demonstrated that actions to integrate women’s health care records across the continuum of care have occurred nationally. Correlational analyses identified that organisations who provided documentation from antenatal records through to discharge summaries to all relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander women had a statistically significant relationship with encouraging family members to accompany and support Aboriginal women during their pregnancy. Similarly, organisations employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners had a statistically significant relationship with providing such continuity of care.

This research provides a benchmark for organisational cultural competency performance. The technology used will facilitate ongoing cyclic use of the validated tool. The results reinforce the value of Aboriginal workforce in maternity settings regardless of location, and the benefits of investing in integrated records. It is of relevance to rural and remote health professionals for guiding activities to improve the maternity experiences of Aboriginal women whether cared for in the bush, or transferred to a regional or metropolitan centre.