NHS Lothian maternity services are a tertiary referral centre for the central belt in Scotland with a birth rate of up to 10,000. A suggestion was made by a member of staff that as a workforce we were lacking in education and understanding when working with LGBTQIA+ families.
Scotland has a population of approximately 5% that identify as LGBTQI+ and therefore we felt it was important that clinical staff develop their skills and knowledge of issues faced by LGBTQI+ people as well as changing the stereotype of what the nuclear family looks like within a safe, inclusive and non-judgemental environment.
LGBTQI+ status is a protected group and therefore as a health board we must go that extra mile to ensure we eliminate all unconscious bias within the care we offer. Following on from the staff member identifying this collective knowledge gap; The Queer Birth Club were contacted to look at the cost of an education session. A member of the education team picked this up and offered to support staff in a funding application. The member of staff that received the quote was unable to commit the time required, so this was picked up by Nichola Bainbridge and Kirstie Woolner. Nichola submitted the funding application on Feb 1st 2022 and we were delighted to find we had been successful in April.
£1400 was awarded from the Iolanthe Midwifery fund to support NHS Lothian hosting a workshop by AJ Silver, a queer doula and the founder of The Queer Birth Club – an online group who aim to support LGBTQIA+ people through preconception, birth and beyond.
They offer the Birth and Beyond training to birth workers to improve the care that is then given to this marginalised group.
The one day, online, workshop supported 20-25 birth workers to complete their workshop. The workshop was booked for 12th December 2022. We advertised this workshop to all birth workers within NHS Lothian – advertising via facebook, posters and emails. The date was quickly oversubscribed and 25 names were then drawn at random to attend.
Feedback was requested from all attendees via e-mail and online form submission. This was universally positive, with all agreeing that they have improved their knowledge and confidence in supporting LGBTQIA+ people significantly, and all giving very positive feedback of the workshop. The Workshop leader – AJ Silver – was overwhelmingly praised for their delivery of the course with some saying it was the best study day they had ever attended.
As the course had been oversubscribed, we looked to alternative sources of funding for an additional day's workshop. We were fortunate to receive funding from NHS Charities and NHS Lothians education fund. Once a second date was set for Jan ’23 we had people then asking to change their place to the January due to work load/childcare issues/miscellaneous. We believe that being just two weeks before Christmas played a part in people dropping out at the last minute and then asking to move to January instead.
On the day only 16 of the 25 people initially booked onto the workshop attended which was very disappointing considering we had such limited spaces. I found that many hours were spent with back-and-forth communications with staff members wishing to change the date, ask questions, have the links sent to alternative email addresses, etc. There was also a lot of communication with the Queer Birth Club PA, Lexi organising payments, dates, getting links etc. As we had advertised over several staff social media platforms these all had to be checked and updated frequently. The organisation of all of this was much more time consuming that I would have imagined.
We have already started looking at organising more workshops for staff as the feedback was so positive.
We have looked at updating some of our policies and guidelines to make them more inclusive to support staff in providing individualised, holistic person-centred care to those who identify as LGBTQIA+ which will leave a lasting legacy from the workshop to improve ongoing care and help to remove the barriers that are so frequently faced by LGBTQIA+ members of the public.
In the future we would not be booking anything in the 2 weeks before, or after Christmas – as the timing of this workshop seemed to be an issue.
We are delighted to have been involved with this project, and incredibly thankful to Iolanthe for the opportunity to host this workshop.