Ammalife Researcher – Dr Abi Merriel has been carrying out research with health professionals in Malawi. She’s been working with colleagues to improve the quality of maternity care in Malawi. Here’s a blog written during her most recent Malawi visit:

I’m very excited to share with you the progress of Appreciative Inquiry to improve the quality of maternity care in Malawi. We’re currently working in three busy hospitals near Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. In August last year we began our ‘action cycle meetings’, bringing staff together to discuss their working lives and care in their facilities. An Appreciative Inquiry approach was chosen because it encourages staff to focus on the positives in their working lives and use these things as a springboard to bring about change.

During the project so far, staff have spent time discovering what is best about their working

lives, dreaming about how they want their organisation to be and designing their plans for reaching these goals – their ‘destiny’. Each group of staff have chosen to focus on different elements of their lives – team spirit, infection prevention and good patient monitoring through improved teamwork being just some of their topics.

The study is now drawing to a close, with just one of the monthly action cycles remaining. The successes of the teams include designing a new rota system for nurses to allow them to work in teams, contributing to buy a shoe rack to encourage cleanliness in the ward, improving the waste management at the hospital to allow better infection prevention and training patient attendants to take basic observations.

Staff tell me that they are happy to have the opportunity to feel positive about their working lives, and they are all keen to continue the Appreciative Inquiry approach after the end of the study. As the study draws to a close we are about to undertake an intense phase of data collection and look forward to sharing the results with you soon“.