Calling a CatholicCare midwife!

Recently I received an email with the subject ‘Baby’. It caught my attention. Intrigued, as no one I knew was expecting a baby, I opened the email. The message that followed was succinct but powerful.

“What a lovely story of new beginnings. You can’t get much more of a story of continuity of care than this….Tiffany, our new Brighter Futures Case Manager (and also a registered nurse and midwife), delivered the baby of one of her Brighter Futures clients on the weekend!”

The email spoke volumes to me. The manager who sent the email was correct. It is a story of continuity and one that displays perfectly CatholicCare’s vision in action. “…We nurture, respect and encourage strong relationships where the individuality and strengths of each person are respected, valued and celebrated.”

When I first met the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning, Helga Smit, a year ago as a new employee, it was apparent she loved her job. She beamed with excitement as she told me that the organisation’s suite of services would continue to expand. I was buoyed by this, but most significantly I was heartened when she explained that the expansion was due to the calibre of people working in our organisation.

“Our staff and volunteers are the lifeblood of our services. Their daily passion, innovation and hard work help to set us apart in the social services field,” Helga said.

You could almost think Helga could foresee Tiffany would be joining our ranks ten months later! When Tiffany applied for the position of Brighter Futures Case Manager, her passion, life experience and qualifications made her stand out for all the right reasons.

As director, Helga cares deeply about the people she encounters, staff and clients.  This is a sentiment echoed throughout CatholicCare Social Service Hunter-Manning. It’s an organisation where the three pillars of Unity, Quality and Sustainability are more than just guiding words on a page. They are made real daily by a team of employees who care and are handpicked as much for their credentials as their community-mindedness and genuine concern for the wellbeing of others.

Tiffany had always known she wanted to be a midwife. However, after a few years in the field, she felt a calling to adapt the insights she gained supporting mums in a maternity suite in the work of building strong and sustainable families.  

“I fell in love with my job as a midwife instantly. I will always remember my very first delivery. It’s the biggest honour to be there for someone in such an amazing and special time of their lives,” Tiffany said.

“Since then my passion for providing a holistic service for women and their families has grown. As a midwife I was often assisting women and families who desperately needed social support but felt I could do little more than make a referral to a social worker without any certainty that their needs would be managed.

“Like CatholicCare’s management, I believe early intervention is paramount to building stronger communities. With this in mind I began my search for a position in the community and came across an advertisement for CatholicCare’s Brighter Futures team. I believed my skills could be adapted to the role of Case Manager and saw it as an opportunity to access and assist these vulnerable women and families who most needed support,” Tiffany said.

CatholicCare is very fortunate to have an extremely skilled and diverse team of workers in its Brighter Futures program. All our staff use strengths-based and reflective practices when working alongside families. We have a team of six experienced staff who have qualifications in disciplines including Health Science, Social Work, Public Health, Community Services, Children's Services, Case Management and Policing Practice − and of course Tiffany is a registered midwife!  We also have a dedicated parent educator who engages with families using evidenced-based parenting programs as an educative tool for change.  Together, they focus on strengths of families, exploring and building on what is working well. This improves relationships and connections within families and communities.

Tiffany reflects, “I have a lot to learn but also I bring a unique set of skills to CatholicCare and in particular the Brighter Futures team. So far I have engaged with a variety of families, in particular one with whom I’ve developed a quick rapport through delivering her baby while on shift at Manning Base Hospital! This is a great example of continuity of care and the benefit of mixing my roles. The relief on my client’s face when I walked into the room was immeasurable- having that familiar face is what it’s all about. I have been able to provide support to this woman and her newborn in the postnatal period, accessing necessities and helping in the transition to home.

Helga Smit often says, “There is no wrong door at CatholicCare.” This is so because of the diversity of services offered by an organisation that celebrates the individual strengths and unique skills of its employees across all service areas and encourages them to think of new and innovative ways to serve our community.

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Lizzie Watkin Image
Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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