A new Australian network – the AusCAPPS Network – is empowering health professionals to deliver best practice, evidence-based care to women who are trying to prevent or manage an unintended pregnancy.
We speak to Family Planning NSW Medical Director and AusCAPPS Chief Investigator Professor Deborah Bateson about what makes the network a ‘one stop shop’ for providing long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) and early medical abortion (EMA) care to women, and why health professionals should join this supportive community.
Ideally suited to GPs, practice nurses and community pharmacists, the network provides practical information as well as evidence-based advice and education on LARC and EMA – from a curated high-quality resource library and case study discussions to expert Q&As and a national database of providers.
At its core, the network is about connection. When it comes to delivering LARC or EMA care, Prof Bateson says that some practitioners can feel quite isolated.
This is a hugely supportive and welcoming community with expert information, your questions answered by experts in their field, and also an opportunity to hear from practitioners at all levels of their careers across the disciplines sharing their knowledge, experiences as well as practice tips.”Prof Deborah Bateson, Family Planning NSW Medical Director and AusCAPPS Chief Investigator
Get to know the features and benefits first-hand by taking a 3-minute tour of the AusCAPPS website, narrated by Jean Hailes Head of Public Health & Education Louise Browne.
According to Prof Bateson, one of the key features is the ‘Chat with peers and experts’ section. “This is incredibly valuable [and includes] a wide range of discussions on, for instance, what pain management approaches do you offer when inserting an IUD or what training requirements do medical defence organisations have for practitioners inserting contraceptive implants?
“You’ll also get expert advice from someone like Dr Kathleen McNamee [Medical Director of Sexual Health Victoria] or myself as well as expert nurses, providing access to the latest evidence-based information in a timely and efficient way.”
Another great feature is the ‘Providers near you’ section, a national database of LARC/EMA-providing practitioners who have consented to having their details displayed on the website.
“You can go to your location, your state or territory, and find out who else is involved in AusCAPPS and their skills in relation to LARC and EMA,” explains Prof Bateson.
For instance, this may be because you want to refer someone locally for an IUD insertion or EMA because you haven’t yet got those skills yourself, or to make those local connections with practitioners with shared interests because we know that this can be hard for time-poor practitioners.”Prof Deborah Bateson, Family Planning NSW Medical Director and AusCAPPS Chief Investigator
A search of your local area may also reveal that there is a lack of nearby practices providing LARC or EMA care – allowing you to fill that gap and provide comprehensive reproductive care to women in your community.
To join the AusCAPPS Network and access these features and benefits, all you need is an AHPRA number and an interest in women’s reproductive healthcare.
Prof Bateson explains that the practitioners who stand to benefit the most are not only those who are already providing LARC and/or EMA to their patients, but also practitioners who may be on the threshold of providing these services.
Perhaps you haven’t quite made that jump to inserting implants or IUDs just yet or are inserting implants but are still a little hesitant around IUD insertion. Or perhaps you have thought about providing EMA but haven’t had the opportunity to talk with other practitioners about it yet and feel a little isolated.”Prof Deborah Bateson, Family Planning NSW Medical Director and AusCAPPS Chief Investigator
“We really want these practitioners to sign up to this community of practice as it is a very practical way of supporting people who want to provide these services but would benefit from being able to ask questions and get lots of practical tips on how to set up and organise their practice.”
There’s no doubt that contraception empowers women, says Prof Bateson. “[Supporting people] to live their lives to the full, to complete their education, join the workforce, plan if and when to have a pregnancy and to space their pregnancies.”
Yet in Australia, uptake of the most effective contraception, LARC, remains low. Research shows that when women are provided with information about all their contraceptive options, uptake of LARC increases and has high rates of acceptability and continuation[2,3].
However, as Prof Bateson explains, women in different parts of Australia face barriers and inequalities in access. “They may have decided they want a LARC but there is no locally trained practitioner to provide their chosen method, or, having made a decision to have an abortion they unable to find a service close to home.
We want to ensure that women who need contraception or EMA across the country can access it, regardless of how much money they have or whether they live in a rural or urban area. The AusCAPPS Network supports GPs, practice nurses and community pharmacists to provide these vital services and will help facilitate this equity of access.”Prof Deborah Bateson, Family Planning NSW Medical Director and AusCAPPS Chief Investigator
To evaluate a potential increase in the prescription of LARC and/or provision of EMA, AusCAPPS is asking practitioners to consent to sharing deidentified MBS and PBS data in the year before and after joining the network. This is optional but encouraged so that the network can evaluate its success and ensure its sustainability. More information on this can be provided via: firstname.lastname@example.org