This is a long-overdue update!
This year we have been working hard behind the scenes and out and about in the community and this is our update you on how your voices as users of the local maternity services have continued to help shape services and to assure you that YOU MATTER. So, let’s look at what we’ve accomplished in 2022!
Our group of service user volunteers has grown.
We now have around 20 volunteers, with an even split between Frimley and Wexham. 45% of our volunteers are from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background and/or from the Muslim community. A huge thank you to our volunteers, who with them we can achieve as much as we do!
Downs Syndrome Information and Support
In March 2022, we launched information packs for parents experiencing a postnatal diagnosis of Downs Syndrome. This pack included letters of support from Mums, Dads, and Grandparents; poems; positive stories and local information.
This project will be presented at the NHS South East Maternity Celebration Event in March 2023.
As a result of the findings of a 2020 national report that women from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds have worse experiences and sadly are four more times likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than white women, the MVP were invited to form part of a working group to address this in our Trust in 2021. We launched the ‘We Want to Hear Your Truth’ survey and ran six listening events to capture the experiences of women from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds and to understand the areas the service needed to improve. This project is ongoing but has already led to the ‘Frimley Local Maternity and Neonatal System Perinatal Equity Plan’ published in September 2022, which several working groups are currently implementing. This survey is still open if you would like to contribute to this project.
In Spring 2021, the MVP was part of a working group to help co-design and implement a counselling service for women who are struggling with their mental health following early pregnancy loss (up to 24 weeks), including miscarriage and failed assisted fertility treatment. It was recognised that there was no provision for this group of women and it was desperately needed. In May 2021 the MVP ran a survey to find out what was the current experience of women suffering from early pregnancy loss, and what care and support for their mental health they would have liked at that time The results fed into the design of the service and lead to a report on further recommendations for improving care for women experiencing early loss; you can read the report here. A series of focus groups was also run whilst the service was developing to ensure the finished service really met the needs of women.
As part of this work, the MVP has also designed a leaflet for partners of women experiencing pregnancy loss, covering both support for their mental health and how they can support their partner.
The service was launched in June 2022, and the MVP is continuing to work with the Forget-me-not team to ensure the smooth and effective running of the service and continuing to ensure that your voice is heard.
This work will be presented at the SE Maternity Celebration Event in March 2023.
Breastfeeding Peer Support
In April 2022, we started scoping our cross-site breastfeeding peer support project. This project aims to provide much-needed breastfeeding peer support in postnatal wards and maternity hubs. Our Peer Supporters will be made up of local women who are experienced breastfeeders and are trained by the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM). Peer Supporters will offer practical help, information and reassurance. They will work closely with midwives and the Infant Feeding Team to ensure mothers who need further help are signposted to the right person.
Positive Birth Boxes
A trial at the Aneurin Bevan hospital in Wales has shown birth boxes have helped create a more positive birth experience. So starting in October 2022, the MVP is co-producing a project to bring positive birth boxes to all birthing rooms and the antenatal wards for women undergoing induction. The idea is to use props to create a calm and relaxed environment, which will help rooms feel less clinical, this is particularly important for those who would have liked to use the Birth Centre but are unable to. Included in the boxes might be; fairy lights or LED light strips, LED candles, light projectors, positive birth affirmations, Rebozo, idea cards for boosting natural oxytocin, and ideas cards for positions to increase comfort and open the pelvis. We’d be delighted to hear if you have other ideas for the positive birth boxes; drop us a line.
Personalised Care Plan App
The MVP has been fully involved in the co-production of the development of this App with Frimley Health and Foundation Trust and NHS England. We used surveys and focus groups to find out what you wanted from a personalised care plan, to gain feedback throughout the development of the app and to test the app before it was released publicly.
The App gives women and birthing people the opportunity think more deeply about their maternity care and record in the app their preferences ready to discuss their personalised maternity journey with their midwife. It is a personal journal for the women to complete on their own. Importantly it is not a just birth plan, nor will midwives be able to access it.
The app allows users to note their thoughts and wishes for pregnancy, labour and birth and for the postnatal period. There is space for noting appointments and space to enter questions so they’re not forgotten before discussing with midwives and doctors.
My Frimley Health Record
With the new digital patient records now LIVE, called EPIC, across the Trust, we are collaborating and personalising further the App called My Frimley Health Record which is the public facing side of the notes i.e., the notes that you can see. EPIC launched in June and despite a few (expected) teething and bedding in issues has been getting some really positive feedback. This has replaced the blue notes that families may know or remember having in previous pregnancies and we are part of a working group to ensure that all the information from the blue notes is still available via the app and maternity website.
The MAMAS line (Maternity and Midwifery Advice and Support) was introduced because of feedback that women found it hard to get through, had long waits when calling about pregnancy concerns, or were in labour. This new 24-hour service collaborates with the South Central Ambulance Service and is led by midwives who provide evidence-based advice. This service ensures a single point of contact that women and their families can call, available from 16 weeks of pregnancy up to 28 days postpartum.
We also regularly review clinical guidelines and parent information leaflets.
Your feedback and how it works
Our Director of Midwifery, the two Heads of Midwifery, senior maternity and obstetric staff and staff in specialist roles are all members of the MVP. We all meet quarterly to ensure that the themes we see in your feedback are heard promptly at the highest levels. This helps to shape and direct service improvements
Any individual feedback that needs more immediate attention is discussed with the Director of Midwifery at one of our regular meetings and/or bought to the attention of the Head of Midwifery or the appropriate Matron
MVP service users are involved in meetings for co-produced projects and workstreams to ensure that the service user voice is heard throughout the development of service improvements.
Your feedback and how it works
The maternity departments and MVP Facebook pages have proved invaluable resources for many of you. These pages continue to share information that may be useful to you; please consider following the pages if you don’t already do so.
Some interesting statistics:
Frimley Maternity Facebook page, with over 13,000 followers
Wexham Maternity Facebook page with over 4,900 followers
Frimley and Wexham, Maternity Voices page, is growing, with over 1,700 followers
Frimley and Wexham Instagram page is growing, with over 300 followers
Published on these pages you can find an information campaign the MVP ran in 2021 called ‘Hello, my role is…’ to explain different roles and responsibilities within Maternity. Feedback in the past suggested that those using maternity care services would like a greater understanding of different roles and how they fitted together. This campaign was very successful.
Plans for 2023!
This year is already looking like it’s going to be even busier than last year and we’re only 2 weeks into January!
We will be continuing to develop and implement our ongoing projects
- Equity work
- Breastfeeding Peer Supporters
- Positive Birth Boxes
- Maternity Website
And take part in future service improvement initiatives including running 15 Steps events designed to improve all areas of the maternity environment.
We want to hear more of your feedback!
- Focus groups
- Visiting community groups
- Individual feedback