Apprenticeships Give Support Workers a Chance to Specialise in Maternity Care

Published: 16th February 2021

Jessop Wing has become one of the first maternity units in the country to successfully implement an apprenticeship scheme for Maternity Support Workers (MSWs).

A cohort of 11 MSWs have completed the 18-month Senior Healthcare Support Worker Level 3 Apprenticeship, with seven of them obtaining a distinction.

Combining practical hospital experience with learning at The Sheffield College, the apprenticeship offered the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge specific to maternity care.

The apprenticeships are part of a drive to develop the MSW role nationally and give support workers the skill set to be part of multi-disciplinary teams looking after mums and babies. The scheme is supported by the Royal College of Midwives.

The apprentices ranged in age from 19 to 50, with some already having prior experience as support workers while others were new to the role. They were able to complete the course despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, with distance learning enabling them to continue their studies.

The role of an MSW can include helping women to settle on the labour ward, assisting the midwife when a baby is born, supporting new mothers to care for their baby in the early days and giving information on skin-to-skin bonding, safe-sleeping for newborns, healthy diet, smoking cessation and emotional wellbeing.

Ali Salmon, Clinical Midwifery Educator at Jessop Wing, said: “The apprentices have not only succeeded academically but have demonstrated considerable resilience and determination in the face of the extra challenges posed by Covid-19.”

The successful apprentices were Gemma Hall, Chelsea Portaluri, Justine Deakin, Becky Harrison, Rachel Bennett, Hayley Preston, Amanda Wilks, Steph Machin, Jenny Harrison, Kayli-Rose Green and Olivia Rider.

Hayley Preston said: “The apprenticeship was appealing to me because I wanted to improve my skills and knowledge when working on Labour ward. I found it hard at first, especially returning to education after a long break. I have gained confidence during the programme of study and feel able to assist with more tasks now I have increased knowledge and training.

“I feel the knowledge I have developed about assessing newborn well-being and sharing public health information with parents has been beneficial to families I work with. I find my new role rewarding because of the contribution I can make. I am considering applying for an undergraduate midwifery degree in the future."

Stephanie Machin added: “I had worked as a support worker in Jessop Wing for 10 years before I applied for the apprenticeship. I felt ready to do more in my role and learn some new skills.

"The programme was stressful at times but support was always there from the tutors and assessors. I feel I have proved myself by taking this step and might consider further studying in future.

“The knowledge and skills I have acquired help me every day to be a valuable member of the maternity team. I am also looking forward to learning more skills such as cannulation.”

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