Tag Archives: Maternity

Why compassionate care should begin with each other.

I haven’t posted in a while. Work and home life have been equally demanding and I think it’s good for us to take a step back every now and then and gather ourselves. 

Over the past few weeks I’ve been questioning why as midwives we are able to demonstrate such kindness and compassion to the families we work with yet when it comes to our colleagues we don’t always find it so easy.

I think we can all be guilty of focussing on our own clinical areas with the belief that we have the greatest challenges within a unit but in truth that is rarely the case. Every area has its pressures, some just manifest in different ways but it is all relative and a lack of understanding of a persons role should not lead to an assumption that they are somehow less important or hard working than you. 

It can be difficult,  on the days when the workload is intense, to remain civil to the person who has just asked you to accept another admission into the ward, or the agency who have just contacted you for information at the very moment you have logged out of the system you need to access, but try we must because who knows what sort of a day that person too is having?

Throwaway comments, especially when overheard, can be incredibly wounding and leave the person on the recieving end feeling sad, disheartened and distrustful of the perpetrator. What is said cannot be unsaid, even in the heat of the moment.

My grandma always used to say to me “taste your words before you spit them out”, in other words think before you speak. I can’t say I have always practiced this and there have been times when I have been just as surprised as everyone else by what has come out of my mouth! As I have got older though I have gradually learned to just pause before responding to something I may find as unreasonable. 

The other premise my grandma used was to ask 3 questions before responding.

1) is it true?

2) is it necessary?

3) is it kind?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no” it is best left unsaid.

The NHS I work in now has changed so much since I started back in 1991 as a student nurse at The Royal Free. More is being asked with less resources and fewer staff which is why now, more than ever, we need to take the time to care for each other. Kindness goes a long way, as does respect and courtesy, and that shouldn’t be dependant on banding or any other hierarchical notions. 

The ward housekeeper is every bit as important as the chief executive of the hospital. Without either the organisation would grind to a halt and I wholeheartedly agree with Sir Richard Branson when he says that if you take care of your employees they will take care of your clients. 

Nurturing a culture of kindness has to be a priority in today’s NHS and can have a huge impact on the lives of those around us. Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind. 


A Time To Act

This is my first blog.

I’ve been toying with the idea for some time but life (and work) seems to get in the way, however today is different, today I woke up to the news that I imagine has affected all of you reading this in the same way. The news that yet another new mum, instead of starting out her journey into motherhood with the same apprehension, excitement and hope that we remember all too vividly, has seemingly ended her life in a tragic and senseless manner. At the time of writing this we have no news of baby, this in itself leaves me feeling so desperately sad yet still there remains a tiny glimmer of hope.

It seems Charlotte Bevan had struggled with mental health issues for some time, as yet we do not know what, if any, help and support was open to her. What we do know is that mental health on the whole seems to be an issue so far removed from any public agenda that today, in the light of such a tragic story, SKY news itself has chosen to debate whether or not “James Bond Has Had its Day” rather than tackle this taboo.

Is it really still, in 2014, such a stigma to be afflicted by mental health issues? We live in an age where information is freely available, we are taught at school from an early age how to access it, yet still so many people suffer in silence, feeling they are alone and isolated. We know that isolation only serves to exacerbate mental illness yet still we chose to ignore it, judge people and assume the worst. Its small wonder people chose not to access care, fearing prejudice and the impact admitting having a mental health issue may have on their lives.

People will be quick to point the finger. I have already heard today “how could she walk through a hospital with a baby in her arms unchallenged?”.

Those of you reading this who work in hospitals will know how it is not unusual to see patients walking through a hospital in clothing unsuitable for outside. People are generally free to mobilise around the site as an in patient and it is not unusual to see parents carrying their children to and from out-patients appointments. Hospitals are not prisons.

I question the security of a ward where exit is granted merely through pressing a door release button but that is not the fault of the staff, who are no doubt devastated. I send my thoughts and prayers to them today, this is not something they could have prevented or predicted whilst caring for women and babies on a busy postnatal ward.

I question a government who chose to consistently cut funding to mental health services, who refuse to prioritise mental health equally with physical health and who choose to continue to put women and babies at risk by not investing in maternity services.

Its not expensive or difficult to invest in perinatal mental health.

The unit I work in identified a gap in service provision for women with mental health issues requiring support in pregnancy and the postnatal period two years ago and we are fortunate that external agencies got on board to create a multi-agency pathway to help the women and professionals co-ordinate care.

Mental illness is not a stigma and people should not die simply through lack of care.

Over to you Mr Cameron…