During the planning stages of The Kindness Conference, I was looking for answers.
I wanted to get a grip on the situation. When I’m in challenging times I tend to look for answers anywhere I can. I’m also a list maker.
I thought you might find reading my lists from that time helpful. I split these into two separate lists: what we don't know about changing midwifery culture, and what we do know.
What We Don’t Know:
1. How best to turn huge workplaces into supportive environments for midwives.
2. How best to support managers in identifying bullying behaviour and in addressing it and the unequal power dynamic that goes on, a job that needs finesse and discernment.
3. What can we do to prevent good midwives feeling they have to leave over this.
That last one is hard to read back. I hate the idea of people being bullied out of the profession.
What We Do Know:
1. We are deeply appreciated by the clients we care for.
2. We have people in our lives (family, friends and professionals) who care about our wellbeing.
3. Midwifery is a profession loved by many who want to make changes. We’d do well not to forget this.
The Caring For You Campaign was launched in June 2016 by the midwives’ union, the Royal College of Midwives. This has a zero tolerance policy on bullying.
Poor culture was been identified as a factor in midwifery care failures at Morecambe Bay, so the value of improving this has been noted at a governmental level.
And excellent culture was also identified as a factor of importance in the Better Births National Maternity Review.
I haven’t seen bullying addressed in so many official ways in this way before. It makes me hopeful. Long way to go, but hopeful.
From everything I’ve read and everyone I've talked to, I think that the culture will be transformed one tiny interaction at a time. Thousands of moments when midwives decide to push a little bit further, prioritise a staff member’s feeling or think about the ‘least important’ person in the room.
These are students and midwives who go into work and make a difference, being kind to their colleagues and women. They will talk about the poor culture. They will promote the good culture. They will repeat this process, with all of us helping, until things are better.
I think this is our plan.
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis for the Kindness Conference. Your discount code for £4.99 off is ‘KIND’.