Maternal and Childhood Obesity (MaCO) (A standalone distance learning package)


When did you first introduce the innovation?

More than 24 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

Maternal and Childhood Obesity (MaCO) is a Bournemouth University distance learning package designed to enable people working with women, children and families to develop the underpinning knowledge and communication skills required to confidently discuss the health risks associated with maternal and childhood obesity and help women and children under their care to make and maintain healthier lifestyle choices. it is a standalone distance learning package that can be studied anywhere there is an internet connection using a smart phone, tablet or computer. Each episode of learning is evaluated with the intention of, in the long term, demonstrating measurable public health improvements as a direct result of the learning provided by MaCO.

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

Although health professionals may seem to be in an ideal position to manage maternal and childhood obesity, education and counselling about nutrition and lifestyle behaviours that prevent weight gain during pregnancy this sadly has not been an important component of many of their training courses or their CPD. In a poll I conducted in 2010 I heard from far too many of these professionals that they felt they did not have the knowledge or confidence to discuss the subject of overweight and obesity with their clients and therefore found it easier to avoid the topic altogether.

Therefore I decided to design and write the content for a web based educational package to give learners an opportunity to develop the underpinning knowledge and communication skills they require to confidently discuss associated health risks, perform weight related risk assessments; advise clients accordingly on behavioural and lifestyle changes including signposting them to local intervention programmes. Additionally, learners are engaged in a variety of activities, which encourage consideration of resource implications and other issues that compound the provision of care in today’s NHS.

In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?

I believe it has the long term potential to improve maternal and childhood health outcomes through the provision of effective advice and guidance in relation making suitable lifestyle choices and encouraging behavioural motivations. The ultimate outcome of the MaCO package is that these lifestyle changes become autonomous at an individual client led level, and are sustainable and transferable from mother to child.

To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?

MaCO is completely web based and allows the learner to work through the package using a blend of learning styles including plain text, illustrations, audio, video, textual role play and more. This use of digital technologies allows the learner the freedom to learn in a variety of user friendly ways from the comfort of their chosen place. It also reduces teaching contact time which relaxes the demands on the teaching team.

To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?

The research is still in progress, and changes to public health outcomes often take decades before results are highlighted, but early indications are that MaCO is empowering learners to make changes to their clinical practice with confidence in their ability to do so in a safe, sensitive and effective way.

What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?

Mixed methodology research using a questionnaire from learners have been collected since 2012. Evaluation of student learning has been on-going since 2012 and, although there was several months where the online learning platform went though some technical problems, the feedback has largely favourable in relation to the learning package content. Some students were asking for was more information specific to nutrition and so this has been added through a collaborative effort between myself and a senior lecturer in nutrition. This research is on-going but anonymised feedback to date is available on request.

To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?

The MaCO learning package was piloted on a group of 3rd year student midwives in Bournemouth University in 2011 and changes made accordingly. MaCO was then, made available to all student midwives in 2012 and accredited as degree and masters level CPD. The package content has now been studied by a range of students, qualified professionals and paraprofessionals including student midwives, GPs, school nurses, practice nurses, health trainers, health visitors and public health practitioners.

Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.

I am still analysing data but have begun drafting articles for submission to public health, midwifery and education journals. Additionally, on the advice of my appraiser, I will also be trying to write a monthly blog related to MaCO. Wessex Deanery wants to meet with me in September 2015 (I am the only midwife who is a registered public health practitioner at the moment), to discuss funding me to work on further developments in the public health area of maternal and childhood obesity.