MSW voice: Dedicated to the role

By Lucy-Jayne Downing on 25 May 2018 Midwives Magazine MSWs - Maternity Support Workers RCM Annual Midwifery Awards

Lucy-Jayne Downing reveals the work she does that made her an RCM award winner.

I work in the Opal community midwifery team funded by A Better Start Bradford, which offers personalised antenatal and postnatal care to women and their families in one of the most deprived areas of Bradford. Through continuity and enhanced care, the team aim to improve outcomes including breastfeeding rates, natural births, home births, uptake of antenatal education, maternal mental health, smoking cessation, low birthweight infants, preterm births, non-attendance at appointments and women’s and staff satisfaction.

My role is vital in contributing to the overall aims of the team and the work we do for pregnant women and their families. My roles and responsibilities include a pre-booking appointment ensuring women receive early advice before meeting their midwife, regarding health choices in pregnancy and to reduce the DNA rate of booking appointments. The early engagement also promotes relationship-building within the team. I also facilitate parent education sessions for first-time, vulnerable or unsupported parents, hoping to give them confidence to care for a newborn. This covers the essential items to pack in their hospital bag and basic baby care, such as bathing, cord care and safe sleeping.

To help achieve the team’s aim of providing 90% continuity, I also visit postnatal women on day three to weigh the baby or to do the day five heel prick blood spot test. Additional visits can also be made to personalise the care of women and families who may need extra support and reassurance, such as breastfeeding, bath demos and safe use of sterilising. If emotional support is needed and the midwife is unavailable, I can provide this too, as they are familiar with me through the personalised care provided.

I was nominated for the RCM’s MSW of the year award by my manager. I was so excited and felt privileged to be nominated, never mind shortlisted!

When I was announced as the winner I was extremely overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe the job I was doing had been recognised in such a positive way, but more that I’d been awarded for something I was so passionate about. From my experience, anything is possible if you set your mind to it. I have always loved what I have learnt and done from the day I started as an MSW and that’s proven to me that you must follow your dreams, because hard work and determination can do wonderful things.

Lucy-Jayne Downing works at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.