Experiences of Women with Disabilities in their Journey through Maternity Services in Ireland

This report uses data from the National Care Experience Programme’s 2020 National Maternity Experience Survey to consider the experiences of women with long-term disabilities, illnesses or conditions in their journey through maternity services in Ireland. The National Care Experience Programme is an initiative by HIQA, the HSE and the Department of Health which captures feedback on people’s health and social care experiences in order to improve the quality of these services in Ireland.

This report fulfils the NDA’s commitment in the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020 to “Undertake further research to guide maternity services and supports for women with disabilities during and post pregnancy” (Action 2.20). It describes the maternity care experiences of 217 women with long-term disabilities, illnesses or conditions in Ireland and compares their experiences to the 2,987 respondents without such disabilities, illnesses or conditions.

There has already been a suite of reports published from the National Maternity Experience Survey on all respondents’ maternity experiences at national and local level, as well as quality improvement plans based on the survey’s findings for all 19 maternity hospitals/units and nine CHO areas. This NDA report makes a series of recommendations, including ways in which current or planned initiatives can adequately address the needs of women with disabilities or additional care needs. Implementation of these recommendations will help to ensure that maternity services can meet the specific needs of women with disabilities. Otherwise, the concern is that initiatives which aren’t accessible to all women may serve to perpetuate or exacerbate existing differences in the care experiences of those with and without disabilities

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