Bereaved father praises midwifery training scheme

Wednesday 27 September 2017

A FATHER whose child was stillborn has praised an innovative scheme to train midwifery students how to care for bereaved parents.

Chris Binnie, who became involved in the Our Angels charity following the tragic death of his son Henry in 2014, was the first bereaved parent to get involved in the University of Salford’s simulation sessions training midwives to provide effective support in these situations.


The sessions were devised by Midwifery Lecturer Anne Leyland because she believes traditional teaching methods may not prepare students effectively to communicate sensitively and empathically with parents whose baby has died.


In the simulation scenario a group of midwifery students are assigned to support and care for the bereaved parents – played by another group of students – and respond to their concerns and anxieties.


The simulated scenario takes place in an area of the University’s state of the art simulation suite designed to look like a birthing centre. It is then streamed live and recorded so larger groups of students can watch, before a debrief is carried out by lecturers to help the students learn from and reflect on the experience.


Chris, who was invited to watch one of the sessions, wrote on his blog: “These Salford students were phenomenal. Student midwives are often kept away from bereavement situations during their placements, for a variety of reasons…. 


“But this cohort of warrior student midwives blew me away with their skill and compassion as they role-played through an unfolding scenario, taking turns to support ‘parents’ through various stages of the journey from finding out that their baby had died through to making memories following their baby’s birth.”


Speaking after the event, he said: “Many bereaved parents love the opportunity to get involved in improving care in the future, and this innovative and effective idea is making a huge difference to how well prepared the Salford midwifery students are to care for bereaved parents in the future. 

“Having the chance to be part of this day, and to talk to these passionate student midwives about our son Henry, was both incredibly rewarding and a tremendous honour.”

The technique has received such positive feedback from students and health service colleagues that the University has begun working with some NHS hospital trusts to use these sessions to provide additional training for their own staff. 


Anne Leyland, Lecturer in Midwifery at the University of Salford, said: “This is the most devastating news that any expecting parent can receive, and I devised a technique using simulation to immerse  students in realistic setting and enable them to play it out and think very deeply about the right things to say and do in that situation.


“Receiving some positive feedback from Chris was very important to us and we hope that his input will help us prepare our student midwives for having to give somebody the worst news.”