Following on from the terrible news this week of the murder of a fellow midwife I’ve been thinking about resilience in our personal and professional lives as a response to stress and grief that we face. Although many midwives, myself included, never knew Sam, it is a shock to our Midwifery family and causes sadness to us all. Our deepest sympathies go out to those who knew and loved Sam personally.
We face many situations in our daily lives, both personally and professionally that cause us stress and worry, and many of our colleagues are struggling around us. We are often told we need to strengthen and improve our resilience. However, there is definitely much to be said for the argument that midwives and other healthcare professional colleagues need to see a balance from the other end of the “see-saw” in reduction in the stress that we face. We all know that the health service in the UK has faced increasing demands in services at the same time as budgets are stretched way beyond what they can deal with. Many situations of stress at work are caused by not being able to give the one-to-one care that women deserve and expect, and delays that are caused by the demands to the service. Sally Pezaro has recently published a blog about research findings which describe themes of what good compassionate care for healthcare professionals looks like, this can be accessed here
At the “pivot” in the middle of the see-saw, are services to offer support to midwives who need it. In Coventry we have seen the launch of the Professional Midwifery Advocate (PMA) programme, the replacement of our previous supervision model. The PMAs are available to offer a listening ear and support to move forward with concerns faced in practise. I am certainly aware of situations in my career that would have benefitted from discussion with a PMA and think that this restorative model of supervision will encourage many more midwives to be open and talk situations through with their PMA. The ability to reflect on actions with an experienced colleague, to discuss what was good, what could have been done differently, and to reflect and learn is incredibly beneficial to those who are newly qualified through to experienced midwives facing situations which individuals have found difficult for a variety of reasons.
I have also been fortunate enough in my career to undertake the mental health first aid course when on a secondment with public health. One of the things they talk about is keeping our “jar” full of the things that help us to remain positive, happy and calm. For myself that involves walks in the fresh air with my two dogs Hershey & Mango as well as good friends and having coffee and cake out with friends (maybe not so good for my physical health!!!). I am currently on holiday in Pembrokeshire and am loving the walks on the beach and along the coast, listening to the waves, and exploring the rockpools! For some, this may sound boring, and your idea of a boring holiday!!! Whatever it is that helps us to fill up with peace and joy in our lives, is what will be beneficial to us in building our personal resilience.
All of this may be obvious, but it’s good to remind ourselves of this sometimes. It’s also good to remember that while we all fill up our “peace” jars in different ways, we often each find different situations we face stressful, that others may not. So, it’s good to remember to act with kindness to our colleagues who may struggle with situations that we face without struggles. I have personally struggled being involved in the Prompt training. I found knowing I’m being filmed and watched by others in another room extremely stressful, but others cope much better in these scenarios. Through a family bereavement recently I have been reminded that there is no right or wrong way to react or behave to grief, and I think this has some parallel with our response to different stresses as well in that we react differently in different situations because we are all individuals. Kindness to our colleagues goes a long way.Beech 090818

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