Student voice: Dream come true
Following a placement in rural Scotland, Elizabeth Barilli has a new-found passion for continuity of care.
The Highland midwife hit our screens during the summer of 2017. The three-episode series that was filmed throughout the Scottish Highland maternity units showed the British population the fantastic continuity of care that is offered to the women in their services. During my third-year community placement I was lucky enough to work in the Highlands with the wonderful midwives in Mid Argyll Community Maternity Unit in Lochgilphead.
The dedicated group of midwives had their own caseload of women and offered holistic, family-centred midwifery care. The mother-midwife relationship was instantly noticeable between the midwives and their caseloading women during both antenatal and postnatal visits. Within a small community I was very quickly welcomed and instantly felt part of the team. A personal highlight was driving through Scotland’s beautiful scenery to attend visits.
We had the luxury of spending quality time and offering all women antenatal appointments in the comfort of their own home. At first, I found it bizarre to be able to spend more than 15 minutes with each woman during visits, like I had previously experienced in other overstretched and understaffed units. I felt much more job satisfaction with the care we could offer. Antenatal education could be offered on a one-to-one basis and the women were much more likely to have their named midwife attend their labour and birth, who for many, was their midwife during previous pregnancies and births. The breastfeeding support was fantastic, because the additional time was spent with women to encourage and support them during the early postnatal period.
As a student midwife I engaged in every opportunity that was available, including being on-call for local home births. With fantastic management and leadership, the midwives appeared to have the perfect work/life balance. To me, what stood out most was the amazing job satisfaction of the midwives who had a completely autonomous role and could provide the reassurance and support needed to improve maternal satisfaction, which can only have a positive effect on early parenting skills.
The Best start programme being implemented in Scotland is driving a change throughout maternity services to provide women with a primary midwife or a team of midwives to provide all aspects of their care. I encourage all student midwives to fully engage with caseloading midwifery care throughout their training and, if possible, attend rural maternity units for placement to practise within this model of care. It is the ideal learning environment to participate in family-centred care that all women deserve.
Because of this experience I am excited and full of positivity for the new continuity of care model that will be offered to all women in the UK.
Elizabeth Barilli is a third-year student midwife at the University of the West of Scotland.