Continuity of care in community midwifery



Bowers J, Cheyne H, Mould G & Page M (2015) Continuity of care in community midwifery. Health Care Management Science, 18 (2), pp. 195-204.

Continuity of care is often critical in delivering high quality health care. However, it is difficult to achieve in community health care where shift patterns and a need to minimise travelling time can reduce the scope for allocating staff to patients. Community midwifery is one example of such a challenge in the National Health Service where postnatal care typically involves a series of home visits. Ideally mothers would receive all of their antenatal and postnatal care from the same midwife. Minimising the number of staff-handovers helps ensure a better relationship between mothers and midwives, and provides more opportunity for staff to identify emerging problems over a series of home visits. This study examines the allocation and routing of midwives in the community using a variant of a multiple travelling salesmen problem algorithm incorporating staff preferences to explore trade-offs between travel time and continuity of care. This algorithm was integrated in a simulation to assess the additional effect of staff availability due to shift patterns and part-time working. The results indicate that continuity of care can be achieved with relatively small increases in travel time. However, shift patterns are problematic: perfect continuity of care is impractical but if there is a degree of flexibility in the visit schedule, reasonable continuity is feasible.

Home health care; Staff scheduling; Routing; Simulation

Health Care Management Science: Volume 18, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2015
Publication date online06/06/2014
Date accepted by journal13/05/2014

People (1)


Professor Helen Cheyne
Professor Helen Cheyne

Personal Chair, NMAHP