Women have told us that how Trusts communicate with them about changes to maternity services can be as important as the changes themselves. In this guest blog, Sally Talbot shares what the maternity team at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust have done to communicate effectively with both women/birthing people and staff during the pandemic….
We are very proud here at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust of the way we have sustained maternity services throughout the pandemic and importantly maintained choices around place of birth; labour ward, birth centre and home.
Partners have always been supported to attend birth and are welcome to attend all scans and appointments. The postnatal ward is still limited to birth partners only and at the moment, sadly, not yet for extended family and friends.
In order to keep everyone safe we regularly review our service against national guidance and take safe steps towards a return to “normal” at every available opportunity. We developed the following detailed maternity advice for families which we shared across all our social media and the Trust website. This was updated regularly and is now on version 10.
Communicating with service users and staff
As a maternity service we knew we needed to find alternative ways of working and communicating to keep women and staff safe. A key aspect of this was keeping everyone informed and ensuring that everyone could access support and guidance during this unprecedented time.
With so many of the face to face local groups being cancelled due to the pandemic, one of our shielding midwives facilitated the setup of WhatsApp support groups for pregnant families.
We had 6 successful Facemums groups running at the beginning of the pandemic and had seen the benefits of communicating via Facebook so decided to utilise this as our communication tool of choice. We set up 2 closed groups, 1 for our maternity workforce and 1 for our pregnant families.
In our maternity workforce group, our senior team produce short videos for the maternity workforce to ensure that messages on service changes and developments are consistent. Mental health & wellbeing services including PMA support are frequently shared with our staff. We set up a thread for team feedback to let the maternity team know that they are still facilitating positive experiences for families despite the challenges the pandemic brings.
In our pregnant families group, we wanted to provide reassurance that maternity services are open and hear for them. We set up a “Celebrating births” thread and many of our families have shared their experiences during pregnancy and birth. Facebook Live has facilitated some positive discussion, with topics including; infant feeding, labour, birth and postnatal care. Our maternity infographic has been developed during the pandemic and shared across social media channels.
Our brand new parent education package has been transformed into videos that are on the Facebook group and available for families to watch when they wish, along with short maternity tour videos.
Using Facebook as a communication tool has allowed us to share posts and supportive information from a wide variety of health care professionals and local services. As the pandemic progressed we have been able to share timely information and important public health messages. We now have 3.3k followers and seeing so many families share their positive experiences has been a great boost for the maternity team.