National award joy for midwife whose compassion has been a lifeline for pregnant women with social complexities | Latest news

National award joy for midwife whose compassion has been a lifeline for pregnant women with social complexities

CMO award

A UHDB midwife has been recognised at a national level by the Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, with a prestigious Silver Chief Midwifery Officer Award for helping pregnant women with social complexities get the support they need in the most compassionate way.

Sophie Richardson, was presented with the national accolade by Sascha Wells-Munro, Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, during a visit to Royal Derby Hospital on 22 May 2023.

The Chief Midwifery Officer Award rewards the significant and outstanding contribution made by midwives in England and their exceptional contribution to nursing and midwifery practice. It celebrates midwives who go above and beyond their everyday roles to provide excellent care, leadership and inspiration to their colleagues and patients.

Sophie works in the Juno continuity of carer team at UHDB, who specialise in providing more personalised care to women in vulnerable groups and demographics.

During her six years at UHDB, Sophie has been instrumental in improving the service for pregnant women and works tirelessly to ensure complex safeguarding cases are well managed while maintaining compassionate, empathetic and non-judgemental care.

When meeting a pregnant woman who was socially isolated due to a language barrier with no family or friends to support, Sophie developed a simple way to offer support when accessing services to her and to other women in this position.

The idea was to introduce ‘maternity translation cards’ which are small, pocket-sized cards which have English on one side and a different language on the opposite side, including the hospital address to show the taxi to aid transfer. They mean women using the maternity department can immediately highlight the reason they have attended before an interpreter can be contacted, giving women confidence to attend a hospital or clinic immediately if they need to do so. Funding to produce these cards on a larger scale was secured and they were translated into 20 languages. These have helped improve access into services for socially complex women who are known to be at risk of health inequalities.

Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, Sascha Wells-Munro told Sophie: "You have continuously found ways to improve practice as well as the experience of women coming through the service here, and implemented changes so that they become a reality. The work that you are doing is fantastic."

Sophie has also recently completed a large piece of voluntary work after identifying that many women supported through the Juno continuity of carer team have been the victim of sexual abuse, either as a child or adult. Pregnancy and birth can be a particularly triggering time for these women, so Sophie did her research to help understand how the midwifery team can support women, improve training for colleagues and share learning from other maternity units.

Following this, Sophie has started work to implement this change into practice by linking in with consultant obstetricians, the specialist mental health team and practice development leads.

Garry Marsh, Executive Chief Nurse, said it is a privilege to see Sophie leading the way for others in her profession. He said: "It has been a pleasure to welcome Sascha Wells-Munro, Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, to UHDB and I am delighted that she has recognised Sophie with the Silver Award, who clearly demonstrates exceptional care to our pregnant women when they need it most.

"Sophie continues to lead the way in improving our services and does not shy away from learning more about breaking down barriers that are in place. To the women who Sophie supports, she is a lifeline and a comfort and it is our privilege as a Trust to see her grow and develop at UHDB. This special award is thoroughly deserved. Well done Sophie." 

Sophie said she was surprised but honoured to receive the award.

She said: "It is really special and I absolutely love what I do. Some of the stories we hear from the women that we work with are awful and they can sometimes feel like they have been let down in the past by professionals so we really have to build that trust.

"It is up to me to make them feel listened to and to do what is important to them and I will always do everything for that woman so that she gets the best outcome she can and so that she is cared for and supported.

"The impact that our care has on these women is massive and makes it completely worthwhile."

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