Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Are you FINE? NW LSA supervisors

Today I had a good day at ‘Perinatal Mental Health – the whole story’ run by the North West Local Supervising Authority for supervisors of midwives.

It was held at the Holiday Inn at Haydock.

The day was chaired by Lisa Bacon who is the Head of Maternal , Child and Social Care Division at the University of Manchester and NW LSA Link Supervisor of Midwives. I was stunned at how she knew all almost 100 delegates by name, as evidenced at question times! Very impressive!

The day began with Professor Maggie Pearson, from the University of Lancashire who reported her findings on current data and the plans for perinatal mental health networks in the NW. We are still grossly under-funded on these services, e.g. at least 16 specialist beds short in the NW and a huge shortage of specialist staff across the region. On the positive side there is shortly going to be a seconded placement available to develop services and little by little progress is being made – although not as fast as we might like!

Next was me! I was delighted when one midwife reminded me after my presentation that I had missed out my tip about people who say they are ‘Fine’ – she had heard me speak last year. I believe we use this as a standard reply in our society to the basic greeting of ‘hello, how are you’. Saying ‘fine’ is quick and easy and generally we don’t want to know how someone’s bunions are! However, when it comes to asking a postnatal lady how she is ‘fine’ can be an avoidance retort. One Mum told me it stands for ‘I’m f***** up, insecure, neurotic and emotional’! My suggestion to professionals is if they get the reply of ‘fine’ but they instinctively feel they are not, to push a little further by maybe placing a hand gently on theirs, give them eye contact and ask ‘but are you really?’ Often this is all Mums need to open the flood gates to their true status. The midwife who reminded of it has used this technique many times effectively she told me. Thank you Ann! We got it fitted in during the question section to tell everyone else! I find feedback like this so powerful and drives me on!

Carla Mobear and Michelle Greenwood then gave us all an insight into the work they do at the Andersen Ward at Wythenshawe hospital – our NW mother and baby unit. They used two case studies to show some of the severe illnesses they have to deal with and the complex issues involving many other agencies across the region.

After lunch Professor Margaret Oates delivered her presentation in her usual impressive manner with plenty of information (and humour) around the CEMACH reports on Saving Mothers Lives/Why Mothers die.

Following this Kim Gibbon showed how the Wirral have developed their perinatal networks and services over the last few years.

Finally Deborah Forrest, a midwife with special interest in mental health talked about ‘The History Girls – how a mental health history helps’.

A well-planned and useful day! Well done to Marian Drazek and her team.

Thank you for asking me to participate!


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