Checking in for my flight at 4am - British Airways no longer fly direct to Kampala so this time I flew with Brussels. Good leg room and a spacious seat, strange food and lots of turbulence. Overall impression: OK but please make the skies smooth, I don't like bumps, however seasoned a traveller I may be!
I'm back in Uganda, my 7th stay here since joining the Royal College of Midwives 3 years ago and so in many ways it feels like coming home. Our new MOMENTUM (Developing a MOdel of MENTorship for Ugandan Midwifery students) project will be officially launched next week and tonight 7 UK volunteer midwife consultants, members of the RCM, will be arriving for four weeks to take up their roles in supporting the development of midwifery mentorship in Uganda. In the first week they'll be meeting their Ugandan 'twins', seeing the challenges they face and gathering some baseline data. Some will be in Kampala but others will be based at hospitals, clinics or Universities further afield. The following week we will all come together for a workshop to launch the programme with various dignitaries, to share ideas, identify challenges and opportunities and set workplans for the next year. I'll be leading the workshop with our partners, the Uganda Private Midwives Association. It will be very participatory with contributions from everyone and (if previous experience is anything to go buy) will involve lots of flipchart, coloured paper, blu tack, singing and prayers! Even meetings in government offices and at the Nursing and Midwifery Council start and end with a prayer. I can't see it catching on in the UK.... For their final two weeks our volunteers will be working with their twins in their workplaces.
The calibre of our UK volunteer midwives is exceptional. To work with the Ugandan Nursing and Midwifery Council on developing a national standard for midwifery mentorship comes Eliz Bannon from Northern Ireland; Eliz is recently retired, giving her an opportunity to do something different. She has worked for the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK and has held many other senior health service roles in addition to close links with the RCM and we are so lucky to have her associated with our programme. Another MOMENTUM workstream is the development of a work-based learning CPD module to train midwives as mentors. Again we have two exceptional UK midwives to lead on this; Hilary Patrick, a Lead Midwife for Education in Scotland with loads of curriculum planning experience and a previous placement in Nepal with our Global Midwifery Twinning Project in 2014; also Aine Alam, a midwife and teacher from Kent who is currently completing her PhD in work-based learning and has recently published a book on midwifery education aimed at low-resource settings. Aine has undertaken 2 previous placements in Uganda with the RCM, helping to develop a Midwifery Masters Programme, and is also an RCM Union Learning Rep.
The MOMENTUM project will also link with four clinical pilot sites to improve the quality of mentorship in practice. These sites have been chosen in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and include public, private and faith-based services, reflecting the different health sectors in Uganda. Four UK midwives with expertise in clinical mentorship will link with these sites. George Castle from Berkshire is a Practice Development Midwife and RCM steward who has previously lived and practiced as a midwife for many years in Uganda, bringing much local as well as professional knowledge. Kade Mondeh, a consultant midwife in London, has years of Practice Development and midwifery leadership experience. Sue Deakin from Yorkshire has a previous placement with the RCM in Uganda, several other overseas postings and years of experience as a practice learning facilitator in the UK to draw upon. And last but not least, Patricia Cosgrove from Northern Ireland is an experience Practice Education Facilitator who participated in the Global Midwifery Twinning Project in Uganda in 2014 and assisted with the needs assessment for the MOMENTUM project. I have every confidence that these seven individuals, working with our Ugandan Partners and supported by the RCM, will make a huge difference to the experience of student midwives in Uganda and ultimately improve the quality of care available to women and babies.
Due to lack of flight availability I've had an additional two days in Uganda before everyone else arrives. It's enabled me to rest and prepare my mind for the next two weeks, to stay with my school friend Deborah in her spacious and peaceful home on the outskirts of Kampala, and to catch up with e mails. I hope to blog again as this trip continues; meanwhile, thanks again to my husband Stephen and daughter Hannah for releasing me so generously, to all who offer lifts, meals and dog-walking whilst I'm away, and for all who support this work in so many other ways.
Left to right: Patricia Cosgrove, Kade Mondeh, Helen Rogers (RCM Director for Wales), Joy Kemp (RCM Global Professional Advisor), Eliz Bannon, Cathy Warwick (RCM Chief Executive), Eleanor Shaw (RCM Global Projects Officer), Aine Alam, Sue Deakin, George Castle, Breedagh Hughes (RCM Director for Northern Ireland), Hilary Patrick.