Coventry University student midwife’s compassion earns her DAISY nomination

Michelle Poole in her Coventry University student uniform is handed her DAISY Award nomination by a colleague at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire

Michelle Poole (left) is handed her DAISY Award nomination by a colleague at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire

Student news

Tuesday 05 September 2023

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A couple who were told they might lose their baby boy say they could not have got through their ordeal without the care and compassion of a student midwife from Coventry University.

Chris and Tamara Vaughan were told the devastating news that their little one might not survive the birth as they prepared for him to arrive 12 weeks’ premature.

At their side throughout their whole time at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire was Michelle Poole, a student midwife at Coventry University, who the couple say was “like family” and their “lifeline”.

Michelle looked after them during the ultrasound and Tamara’s c-section, as well as visiting them on the neonatal unit where their little boy, Maximus-Rex, was cared for as he slowly became stronger and stronger.

The family have recently celebrated Max’s first birthday but they haven’t forgotten what Michelle did for them and put her forward for a DAISY nomination. The DAISY Award, established by the DAISY Foundation, allows patients and families to show their gratitude to a nurse or midwife who provided “extraordinarily compassionate care”.

We didn’t think we could have kids and one day Tamara wasn’t feeling great and she thought taking a pregnancy test would tell if she was sick or not! She did it and had these two lines come up. So five or six more tests later we thought we better get checked and we found out she was 18 weeks’ pregnant.

Chris Vaughan

A private scan showed they were having a baby boy and further appointments at hospital identified Tamara's pregnancy as high risk, and due to the complex nature of the care required this led to them going by ambulance to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust for Tamara to give birth.

This is where they met Michelle, who was on a clinical placement working under the supervision of the registered midwives and medical team caring for Tamara.

Maximus-Rex in his hospital crib

Photo: Maximus-Rex was born 12 weeks' premature at University Hospital Coventry

Michelle took us for the ultrasound and we were told to prepare for a potential stillbirth,” Tamara said. “We managed to keep it together in the corridors, but we were both in tears then back in our room.

We were sobbing and Michelle said she couldn’t leave us. She was just so sweet and really attentive. After that she was like family and was our main support until Chris’s family arrived. Michelle was there through the whole thing – we don’t know how we would have done it without her.

She stayed through the whole c-section even though her shift had ended. She and Chris were my lifeline and they got me through it.

Tamara Vaughan

Chris echoed his wife’s words saying that Michelle was full of empathy and “there was a lot of love coming from her”. Once they were up on the maternity ward with Max, they still received visits from Michelle during her breaks as she checked on how the new family were getting on.

Little Max weighed just 665g when he was born – less than a bag of sugar – and spent a month at UHCW and a further two months at Northampton General Hospital before he was able to go home.

Michelle had decided to become a midwife after receiving great care herself when having her first child but as her husband is a soldier the family have moved around a lot, meaning she didn't get the chance to do so until they finally settled in Coventry after having a second child.

Maximus-Rex being held by his two parents

Photo: Tamara and Chris Vaughan with little Maximus-Rex, who recently celebrated this first birthday

I was asked to join the senior members of the work team during huddle and was handed the nomination. I was immensely proud but when I read the feedback and realised it was for the care I provided to Chris and Tamara during the birth of Maximus-Rex I felt warm with pride that the care I provided for them during such a challenging time meant as much to them as it had to me.

I often think about that day and find myself wondering how they were all doing as a new family of three.

Michelle Poole

As she is not a registered midwife yet, Michelle, 37, and originally from Hounslow in London, is not eligible under the DAISY Foundation criteria to receive a full award, but University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire still wanted to ensure that her nomination was acknowledged and celebrated.

Find out more about Coventry University’s midwifery course