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Midwife lecturer praised for innovative approach to student bereavement training

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Midwifery students at the University of Salford are learning how best to care for bereaved parents through simulated scenarios involving actors.

The innovative training was devised by midwifery lecturer Anne Leyland, because she felt traditional teaching methods did not always prepare students to communicate sensitively with parents who had suffered the death of a baby in the womb or just after birth.

“Simulation offers us the ability to immerse students in a very realistic setting”

Anne Leyland

She has now been short-listed for a national award for the ground-breaking approach, which uses actors and the university’s nursing and midwifery simulation suite.

During the training scenarios, midwifery students are expected to support and care for bereaved parents – sometimes played by theatre students from the university – and respond to any concerns.

The simulation takes place in an area designed to look like a home birthing room, and is streamed live and recorded so other students can watch.

After the exercise, lecturers do a debrief to help students learn from and reflect on the experience.

Ms Leyland said the technique gave students the opportunity to gain a real insight into how best to support families at a hugely difficult time.

“Simulation offers us the ability to immerse students in a very realistic setting, so they’re able to play this out and think very deeply about the right things to say and do in that situation,” she said.

University of Salford

Midwife praised for bereavement training innovation

Anne Leyland

“This is absolutely devastating news for a pregnant woman and her partner, and the quality of the care they receive afterwards is crucial to their psychological recovery,” said Ms Leyland.

“The way the bereaved parents are treated by the health service can have a huge impact on them and on their future pregnancies,” she added.

The technique has proved so successful that some NHS trusts are now considering using it to provide extra training to staff.

On the back of this work, Ms Leyland has been short-listed for a bereavement care award sponsored by charity Sands, which supports those affected by stillbirth and neonatal death.

The award is one of the Royal College of Midwifery’s annual awards, which will be announced at a ceremony in March next year.

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