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Journey to Parenthood – Developing Personalised Care Plans in Maternity

Women had expressed a desire to keep a diary/journal of their journey, as they were unable to keep their clinical notes. They were clear that they wanted this in a digital format, specifically not an app. This is when the Journey to Parenthood was born!

Background to project

Personalised care is a key deliverable within Better Births and the Long Term Plan. The Local Maternity System recognises that every woman is different and will be starting their pregnancy journey from a different place. It is essential that all women should be able to make decisions about their care during pregnancy, during birth and after their baby’s birth.

The Better Births programme sets out the ambition to improve choice and personalisation of maternity services so that all pregnant women have a personalised care plan by 2021.

The vision of the project is to:

  • Provide information to women in an understandable manner to help inform them to make decisions about their care,
  • Create a product that is developed and owned by women and recognised by all agencies across health and social care. The product can be written in conjunction with professionals and should aid transition throughout pregnancy and postnatally, reducing the need for women to repeat their story.



In order to understand what a personalised care plan would look like for local women and ensure women feel that they are being listened to and leading their own care, we enlisted the help of our Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP).

The MVP led a series of engagement work to develop what local women understand and want from personalised care plans including the questions they would like to be asked, and at what point in their journey.

On one occasion the MVP advertised a coffee morning through their facebook page, and ran a morning asking women ‘what matters to you?’ and ranging from early pregnancy to postnatally.

The MVP joined the Project Team at a South West event to further develop personalised care plans with clinical colleagues across the region.

On reflection of the feedback received, it was clear that women had expressed a desire to keep a diary/journal of their journey, as they were unable to keep their clinical notes. They were clear that they wanted this in a digital format, specifically not an app. This is when the Journey to Parenthood was born!

Once the Journal was drafted, the content was reviewed by a variety of groups such as Maternity Voices Partnership members, Perinatal Mental Health Patient Participation Group, Maternity Partnership Team, Health Visitors and clinical staff to ensure the content was suitable.


Learning and outcomes

We recognised that in order to provide women with personalised care planning and to empower them to be able to make decisions about their own care, we need to change our maternity staffs’ ethos and the traditional culture of care planning too. We have since organised a series of face to face training sessions with the national personalisation team to ensure staff are refreshing skills to promote choice and highlighting the new tool in place; the journey to parenthood.


Next steps

By March 2021, we hope that all women giving birth in Gloucestershire will have access to a personalised care plan during their maternity journey. To support their decision making, we have provided unbiased information available through including the latest evidence and what services are available within Gloucestershire.

We are currently trialling the journal in a small pilot within the Forest of Dean and Gloucester and are actively receiving feedback on the content, look and feel of the journal to ensure it is received well and remains fit for purpose and women feel it is something they would use and find useful. Following this, we will launch the journal to all women, supporting by a communications plan to inform all appropriate staff how to use and respond to a completed journal. Our Maternity Voices Websites will record how many women have downloaded the personalised care plan, and we will monitor feedback from a feedback survey. We hope that women will say that they were offered sufficient unbiased information to support their choice of birth.

We are fortunate that this project dovetails with our long term ambition to go digital, providing women with access to their notes through a patient portal. The development of personalised care plans provides a perfect test bed in order to understand what matters to women, and what information they would like to be able to access and share digitally. This project therefore does not have an end, it will naturally feed into the digital maternity project where we will look for opportunities to digitalise personalised care plans even further, with interactive elements between mothers and professionals.