Maternity Support Worker

The Job and What's Involved

Maternity WardMaternity support workers help midwives provide care to women, their partners and babies, before, during and after childbirth. Under the direction of a qualified midwife, they support families on labour wards, in maternity theatres, on post-natal wards, or in the community.

As a maternity support worker your duties would include:

  • Sharing information with midwives about the condition of mothers and babies.
  • Helping to deliver care plans under the direction of midwives.
  • Supporting women towards self-care and independence.
  • Assisting with parent craft classes.
  • Helping to make sure clinics run smoothly.
  • Collecting statistics under the direction of midwives.
  • Keeping records up-to-date and making sure procedures are followed.
  • Helping on wards and in other clinical areas as required.

You would usually work 37.5 hours a week, including nights, bank holidays and weekends, on a shift or rota system. Flexible and part-time hours are often available.

You would work under the supervision of a registered midwife in a community or hospital setting. In the community, you would usually spend some of your day travelling between clients.

Maternity support workers can earn between £13,600 and £16,300 a year. With experience and relevant qualifications this can rise to around £21,800.

Additional allowances may be paid for working unsocial hours.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You will find most job opportunities within the NHS, in hospitals and the community.

Education and Training

Each NHS Trust can set their own entry requirements, so it is important you check with your local maternity unit about their specific criteria. In general, however, many employers will prefer you to have:

A good general standard of education, for example, four GCSE's (A-C) including English and maths.

Relevant experience, paid or unpaid, in a hospital or with families and young children in a health or social care setting (contact the voluntary services coordinator or manager at your local NHS Trust for further advice (see NHS Choices for a list of Trusts)).

You will also need evidence of your good health and character and a full Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

Certificate in Working in the Health Sector, which aims to give you the knowledge you need to work in this industry.

It could be an advantage to have a basic First Aid Certificate and a relevant health care qualification such as a level 2 or 3.

You could start working in a hospital and prepare for a caring career through a Cadet Scheme or Apprenticeship (in many regions, Cadet Schemes have been replaced with Apprenticeships). Schemes vary between Trusts, but will usually include clinical placements and working towards a qualification, such as the new Level 3 Diploma in Clinical Health care Support.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

You can also contact your local NHS Trust (see the NHS Choices website) for details of both cadet and apprenticeship schemes.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You will receive induction training from your employer, which will usually cover areas such as:

- Infection control
- Breast feeding support
- Risk management
- Child protection
- Health and safety

You will continue to develop your skills by working closely with midwives and experienced support workers and by completing a supervised programme of training. This can vary in length and content and you may be assessed at the end of your training.

You may also be encouraged to work towards NVQ levels 2 and 3 in Health.

A new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is being introduced and by 2011 at the latest, it's expected that all new learners will be registered for qualifications on the new framework. For this area, relevant new vocational qualifications are expected to include a level 2 and 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support, and a job role specific Level 3 Diploma in Maternity and Paediatric Support; course providers and employers can give further advice.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A maternity support worker needs:

  • Excellent communication and listening skills.
  • An understanding of the importance and relevance of good patient and visitor relations.
  • The ability to manage time efficiently and prioritise your workload.
  • A positive, enthusiastic attitude.
  • A commitment to training, personal and professional development.
  • Empathy and a caring and supportive manner.
  • Good team working skills and the ability to work alone.
  • The ability to react appropriately to situations needing immediate action (under the direction of the supervising midwife).

Your Long Term Prospects

Your experience in this role will be useful if you want to go on to train as a midwife or adult nurse.

Get Further Information

Skills for Health, Goldsmiths House,
Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 922 1155
Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

NHS Careers, PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Website: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

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