Thinking Differently Together - First 1,000 Days Of Life

Questions and Answers Has there been a spike in social media activity as a result of the pandemic, or has the increase been part of a general trend in greater use of social media? Rachel: There has been a definite spike over the pandemic, social media has been effective for women and birthing people being able to reach out, ask questions quickly and easily, and receive answers either from their hospital team or from us at MVP. People have been able to ask about Covid restrictions and get the information they need really quickly. Can Continuity of Carer help our midwifery staff manage compassion fatigue? Nicola: Yes it can. Local units who have implemented Continuity of Carer are oversubscribed as our midwives want to work in this way. It makes for more autonomous practitioners, it gives them more control over their work-life balance, they have a manageable caseload. Research on the model in practice shows a much lower staff sickness rate too. We need to plan the workforce, recruit the midwives and get started. Cat: I now work with women with complex needs in the community, and I now have a smaller caseload. I have been able to offer more continuity of care, for example accompanying women to their elective caesarean section. I see the women throughout their ante-natal and postnatal period, and I have never been happier in my job. Can you summarise how staff should manage compassion fatigue and other stresses? Cat: The fatigue is there because you are continually giving out to others, so it’s about finding ways to restore yourself. Talking is a big help, and this could be with a professional such as a midwifery advocate or counsellor, both of whom are trained to listen empathetically without judgement. It’s also important to make sure your own basic needs, for eating and drinking and movement are met. Journal writing can help process all those thoughts that live in your head – seeing the thoughts written down can help you challenge yourself on the evidence for your negative thoughts about yourself, and to work through them. How can we make the public and professionals more aware of the importance of epigenetics? Teri: The term epigenetics needs to be relatable to people to help them engage with the concepts. In pregnancy and childbirth there is a lot of guilt and self blame, so when we say that what you do in pregnancy will affect the child later on, that is a difficult message to hear. Health professionals can be reluctant to share that message, and Continuity of Carer can support this work as people are much more likely to listen and engage with someone they know well and trust. Lisa: Education also has a role in helping health professionals to understand epigenetics and have those difficult conversations. We need to discuss the needs of parents with disabilities. Lisa: There are issues for all those with protected characteristics but specific challenges for people with disabilities and we need to make sure we understand those challenges and address them. Helen: We have recently undertaken engagement with a number of different groups and communities and disability is part of our focus in our work to tackle inequalities. This is also something we will continue to focus on to ensure we capture all the issues and make plans to tackle them. Led by Lisa Nobes, Director of Nursing – Suffolk and North East Essex CCGs Thinking Differently Together | 22