Family inclusion as part of service quality: some proposals inspired by Norway

family inclusive service quality

A new maternity service quality questionnaire has been carefully designed and tested in Norway (Sjetne IS et al. 2015). The survey addresses family inclusive components of quality.

“Was your partner received well by the health personnel at the delivery ward?
Were things arranged so that your partner could be present if you both so wished?
Was your partner received well by the health personnel during the post-natal stay?
Were things arranged so that your partner could be present if you both so wished?”

Furthermore, women’s partners were included in the design of the survey.

Other quality questions relating to family inclusiveness

There are other questions relating to family inclusiveness that could be considered. These are related to things we know make a difference to outcomes and that women and their partners care about, though clearly the questions would need testing with the same rigour, as the questions already included in the survey were.

  1. Was your partner invited to be present and was he/she well received by the midwives/doctors/ultrasonographer/other professionals antenatally and by health services after the birth? (The current questionnaire only addresses these questions in relation to the delivery and postnatal wards.)
  2. Were antenatal appointment times flexible around family work patterns?
  3. (In addition to the questions already in the service about being well-received and welcomed to be present:) Was your partner well informed and invited to ask questions?
  4. Was the information provided at all stages in the process partner-friendly and did it address family issues – e.g. family member as birth partner, relationship issues during pregnancy, mental health pressures, etc.

Ask partners about quality too?

Partners could usefully participate in the survey themselves. This idea is based on the experience of the exemplary Serenity Birth Centre near Birmingham in UK. This unit was designed with full input by partners, who have a unique perspective on maternity services – they see and experience a great deal. (The name, “Serenity”, was chosen by service users and was proposed by a father.)


Sjetne IS et al. (2015), A questionnaire to measure women’s experiences with pregnancy, birth and postnatal care: instrument development and assessment following a national survey in Norway, BMC Pregnancy & Health

Photo: Krista Guenin. Creative Commons.