Perfect perinatal care – Abigail is our NHS Hero

From teaching English in Zimbabwe to helping expectant mums with a mental health condition, Abigail Masara, aged 52, has spent her whole career striving to make a difference to other people’s lives.

Abigail, who is part of Dudley and Walsall Mental Health (DWMH) Partnership NHS Trust’s new community perinatal team, is a specialist mental health practitioner within the newly formed team, which was set up in January this year.

Prior to joining the team, Abigail not only grew up in Zimbabwe, but was also a teacher for 10 years until the year 2000. She then moved to London and taught English to other language speakers at a business college.

“It was at the business college, during term times, when I decided that I wanted to become a healthcare assistant as a lot of my friends were nurses and I just love caring for people,” said Abigail.

Determined to pursue a career in nursing, Abigail started her training in 2005 at Wolverhampton University and is now into her 11th year as a qualified nurse.

In her current role, she has the responsibility of assessing expectant mums, coordinating their care (which can be in clinic, at home or in hospital/children’s centres) and offers mild cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

“I love my job so much,” Abigail said.

“Meeting women at such a vulnerable time can be difficult but it is so rewarding for me to walk the journey alongside them and help them to recover and live a fulfilling life with their baby.

“I work as part of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) with a great bunch of people who are always so supportive which also really makes a positive difference.”

Abigail has experienced many highlights throughout her career but her main highlight was when she worked in a prison and her team won a national award.

“I was so thrilled when Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health in-reach team, which I was a part of, won an award for setting up a learning disabilities service to help those in prison who needed additional support.

“It was one of my greatest achievements,” Abigail said.

Outside of work Abigail enjoys going to church, gardening and spending time with her husband who she says is also her best friend.

So who would Abigail say is her hero?

“My sister is my hero.

“She is a mother figure to me, especially since I lost my mother back in 1991.

“My sister still lives in Zimbabwe where she runs an orphanage and feeds around 300 children every single day – she is so inspirational.”

Abigail’s mental health message: “Just like a physical illness, mental health conditions can creep up on anyone. Don’t be scared to seek guidance because there is always help out there.”