Since 1983, community-based Healthy Mother Healthy Baby (HMHB) has provided pre- and post-natal support services to high-risk, vulnerable pregnant women in Saskatoon and area by promoting healthy lifestyle choices and education. While an anecdotal success, the program has never formally examined how well it was meeting its mandate. To remedy this, Angela Bowen undertook a systematic review that involved interviews with HMHB staff, community partners, and the women who have utilized the program. The results are summarized in Health Mother Healthy Baby: Program Logic Model and Evaluability Assessment.
HMHB aims to help “hard to reach” high-risk pregnant women who would otherwise likely not seek prenatal services and all pregnant teenagers in Saskatoon. These services include outreach work, maternal health, nutrition education, and counseling, all of which are aimed at alleviating issues or environments that threaten the health of the mother and her baby. HMHB also visits all women at least once after the birth, with further visits if necessary. HMHB seeks to promote proper nutrition and help mothers make wise health choices regarding drinking, smoking, and other high-risk behaviours for the sake of both mother and baby.
After discussing the program with clients, stakeholders, community partners, and present staff, Bowen compiled a series of recommendations for both improving and monitoring HMHB’s effectiveness. Her recommendations for maximizing effectiveness included continuing to build greater links to similar programs in the community, introducing HMHB staff to capacity-building concepts, working to reduce waiting-list time, and attempting to increase the number of postnatal visits. With regards to monitoring the program’s success, Bowen suggested better and more frequent internal tracking, plus increased feedback from clients about their impressions of HMHB. Client questionnaires might also reveal whether the advice provided about healthy choices and nutrition was being properly received.
The fundamental challenges for HMHB are to incorporate a greater and more consistent level of self-evaluation to its operation and gain insight from the women who have used the service. While the anecdotal evidence testifies to HMHB’s success, more formal and regular documentation will improve and better prepare the program for future needs and challenge