Last week I attended a conference to celebrate staff dedication and commitment to patient care at the trust in which I do the majority of my placements.
There wasn’t a single aspect of the day that I didn’t gain something from, with topics ranging from the raising of concerns from Helene Donnelly, Ambassador for Change to the importance of mental health awareness, and from revalidation to an insight into the fabulous work of frailty and surgical teams.
I have only spent one day of my training with the midwifery team, not enough time to gain a deep insight into their work, so the presentation they gave was a real eye opener and left me with a lot to think about. I work in the same hospital as this team yet I was unaware of the services they offer, in particular the lengths they go to for bereaved parents. As someone who has previously lost a baby it really struck a chord with me.
The loss of a baby is a truly traumatic experience and I think I knew at the time that I hadn’t really received the care I should have done, but after seeing the maternity team present I now know for certain this was the case. The midwives spoke with such passion I couldn’t help but reflect on my own experience.
I remember going down to theatre on a trolley and being asked what we wanted to do with the baby after the surgery - did we want to make our own arrangements or let the hospital take care of things? Mine was a pregnancy that was very much wanted - we had been trying for nine years - so I was devastated when they could not find a heartbeat on the scan. I was frightened, emotional and hadn’t slept for days. So to be asked such a question at this particular point seemed so ridiculous; I was in no position to make such a decision. To my regret I said the hospital could arrange things and that was that. I had the surgery and went home to grieve with my husband, empty and confused. I was not offered any further support.
My own experience seems a million miles away from the support and care that this team offer to not only the mother but also the entire family. Memory boxes, photos, and cuddle cots mean that if the family wishes to they can spend time with the baby, and if they decline any or all of these options the midwives acknowledge differences, the right to choose and always support each decision. Emotional, spiritual and religious needs are taken into consideration and memorials can be held for a baby. This brief description does not do justice to this set of wonderful services.
Further, it was clear to me that for the staff, it means more than just a part of their role. They know it matters, and their commitment to bereaved families was clear to see, as was their compassion for one another. Life is, of course, precious and to see it disappear before it has barely begun on a regular basis must be emotionally exhausting. The midwives acknowledge this strain and support one another. Further, they offer strong support to their students, which was certainly refreshing to see.
I am not planning a career in midwifery but whatever our role in the healthcare system we can learn so much from exploring others’ work. Do you know what teams in the same building as you do day-to-day, the services they provide? Whether a nurse or a midwife we should all be striving to deliver compassionate, patient-centred care and taking the time to learn from one another will certainly help us achieve our mutual goal.
At the end of the presentation the midwives invited us to take an in-depth look around the unit. I would encourage others to do the same if such an offer comes your way – or, even better, seek one out. One day a patient will ask about the services of another team, and when that time comes you will be able to empower them with a wealth of information about the vast array of vital services on offer, all under one roof.
Leanne Siekiera is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for adult branch