For me the overriding theme of this weekend has been ‘Support’ and all the different forms it takes. I think this is exactly what patients need, rather than feeling like they are in an overwhelming conference hall being pitched at by clinics and no safe space to escape to. They need to feel safe, relaxed and comfortable to seek the advice they need, whilst also learning about the different options available to them.
The additions of the Babble Lounge and the Fertility Fest, along with a much more relaxed setting of the Talk Fertility stage make the show feel more like an event dedicated to helping people have a better Fertility experience, considering them as a person and their individual needs.
Fertility Fest – Hosted by the amazing Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautierit was a great mix of artists and experts – the sessions were often very emotional, and they covered a wide range of experiences and situations so that no one is left out – it was such an inclusive event offering support to everyone – women, men, hetro and same sex couples, solo mums, donor receptors, surrogates. This support was so well received and highlights the changing needs of society and how individualised support is so important.
Q&A stage – hosted by the brilliant Natalie from The Fertility Podcast, demonstrating how she has been able to create a huge bank of information and support for people TTC through her fantastic podcast. The focus this year had definitely shifted to have an emphasis on emotional support, for men and women. Bringing together lots of support professionals who are dedicated to making the experience of TTC and IVF as positive and relaxed as possible.
There also felt to be a much more collaborative approach to supporting patients, with professionals working together to create the best possible support system for patients. When we all come together it ensures that support can be personalised to the individuals specific needs and situation – it’s not one size fits all, and what people needs at different points of their journey changes too.
I also had lots of really positive meetings with clinics who are prioritising patient care, and understand the need for all staff to be providing empathic care to patients. The release of the HFEA code on patient support has really highlighted this need, and clinics that are already starting to implement a culture of support are seeing a positive difference in how patients are responding to staff.
I also got to catch up with a senior auditor with the HFEA about the code of conduct on patient support. He was talking me through how clinics will be audited on the new policy and that they are expecting clinics to be working on creating their ‘Patient Support Policy’ immediately so that the support for patients begins immediately. I am already working with clinics on this and having conversations with others on how they can ensure their patient support is at the level the HFEA (and their patients) expect it to be.
For me, I see it as supporting staff and clinics in implementing a culture of support and ensuring high levels of patient emotional care in a way that supports them in their already very busy and demanding roles.
The commitment shown across the whole weekend to supporting patients (from a medical, holistic or support point of view) was very clear and is a huge step forward in the field of fertility. We all share the same aim of helping people have a baby at the end of this process and improving the experience of that journey to getting a baby.
Well done for another fantastic show – The Fertility Show, The Fertility Network and IVF Babble, as well as all the people that contributed to the weekend to support patients.
If you would like to talk about how I can support you and your staff in implementing the HFEA Patient Support Policy message me now on [email protected] and we can get started on identifying the focus areas.