Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

‘Lost and confused’: parent representative groups’ perspectives on child and family health services in Australia

Amiee Hesson A , Cathrine Fowler B , Chris Rossiter B C and Virginia Schmied A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South, NSW 2751, Australia.

B Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: christine.rossiter@uts.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 23(6) 560-566 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY17072
Submitted: 18 May 2017  Accepted: 9 September 2017   Published: 29 November 2017

Abstract

Consumer involvement in health care is widely accepted in policy and service delivery. Australia offers universal health services for families with children aged 0 to 5 years, provided by child and family health nurses and general practitioners. Services include, but are not limited to, monitoring and promoting child health and development, and supporting parents. This paper reports consumer representatives’ perspectives on Australian parents’ needs and experiences of child and family health services, identifying facilitators and barriers to service utilisation. Twenty-six representatives from consumer organisations explored families’ experiences through focus groups. Qualitative data were analysed thematically. Consumer representatives identified several key implications for families using primary health services: feeling ‘lost and confused’ on the parenting journey; seeking continuity and partnership; feeling judged; and deciding to discontinue services. Participants highlighted accessible, timely, non-judgmental and appropriate interactions with healthcare professionals as vital to positive consumer experiences and optimal health and developmental outcomes. Representatives indicated that families value the fundamentals of well-designed health services: trust, accessibility, continuity, knowledge and approachability. However, both consumers and service providers face barriers to effective ongoing engagement in universally provided services.

Additional keywords: children, child health services, consumers, nurses, parents.


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