A student midwife from the University of Salford has won a national award for a project to help improve maternity care for deaf women and their families.
Paulina Ewa Sporek is the first student midwife to win a Royal College of Midwives Award since they were established 14 years ago. She beat off stiff competition at a ceremony in London on Wednesday (22 January) to win the Slimming World Award for Public Health for her ‘Deaf Nest’ initiative.
Hearing loss is a major and growing health issue which currently affects more than 10 million people in the UK. The barriers deaf families encounter include discriminatory health and social support services and limited access to information.
Paulina was inspired to create the Deaf Nest project because she felt that deaf pregnant women and their partners were not getting the right help and support.
Deaf Nest provides support and guidance through leaflets, visual aids, quick reference diagrams, flash cards and videos presented in British Sign Language. These materials will be made available on a website which is currently under development.
A study day for midwives, patients and other health professionals will be held to raise awareness of deaf issues, and Paulina is working in collaboration with fellow student Lukas Ziabka to produce a documentary about the challenges deaf people face in everyday life.
Paulina said: “Working on Deaf Nest is an excellent experience - I truly believe it will improve deaf people’s experience, choice and control over maternity care. I feel eager and confident to embark on the challenge of improving care for deaf women and their families.”
Head of the University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work, Professor Tony Warne, said: “This award recognises the creativity and commitment our students have in responding to the real life challenges of the people they care for.”
Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “To win an award is a real achievement and to win one whilst still a student is outstanding.
“Without students, midwives and their teams pushing at the boundaries of practice we would not see the care they are able to give to women, babies and their families improve and move forward. This is innovation in action which will help maternity services everywhere to deliver safer, better and continually improving care.
“I congratulate Paulina on this achievement and thank her for her dedication, skill and commitment to women and their babies.”
Paulina has also been shortlisted for an Outstanding Student Midwife Award by the Cavell Nurses’ Trust Scholarship. The Awards are designed to help nursing and midwifery students at the start of their careers.