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New mother and baby unit takes shape

​New mothers with serious mental health problems will soon be able to receive specialist inpatient treatment closer to home when a new unit being developed by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) opens its doors early next year.

Work on the £4m Kingfisher Mother and Baby Unit (MBU), which is being created at Kingfisher House at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich, is progressing well, with the unit on track to welcome patients in late January.

Once complete, it will ensure mums and their babies can stay together while the mother receives inpatient care for conditions such as severe postnatal depression, serious anxiety disorders and postpartum psychosis. The unit will also accept women in late pregnancy who require acute psychiatric inpatient care.

Work to create eight en-suite bedrooms, each of which will be identified by a different flower design on the door, is nearing completion, while staff have consulted with service users to choose a muted, homely and welcoming colour palette for the walls.

Service users have also helped choose the furniture for the unit, all of which complies with the latest infection control guidelines and is designed to promote safety for those with challenging behaviour who are at risk of harming themselves or other people.

Susan Stolworthy, NSFT’s Operational Manager for Perinatal Services (Norfolk and Waveney), said: “We are delighted that this vital new unit is on track to welcome its first patients early next year. It will enable us to ensure that new mothers can get the best possible care closer to home, and without having to be separated from their newborn.

“We have worked very closely with service users throughout the project, and involved them in all of the decisions we have made about how the unit will look and the furniture it will include. We want it to be as homely, welcoming and non-clinical as possible so that it provides a calming environment in which the women can receive effective care and treatment.

“Over the next few months we will be carrying out extensive training with the staff who will be running the unit so that we can ensure we are providing the best possible care when we open our doors in 2019.”

The bid for £4m in Department of Health funding to create the unit was led by NSFT in collaboration with the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), and comes in addition to £2.8m in additional revenue funding which the Trust will receive annually to deliver the new service.

Once work is complete, a range of therapeutic services will be available including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, along with help with bonding and attachment. Trained peer support workers – people who have personal experience of perinatal mental ill health – will also offer support and practical help.

The unit will use a web-based system to take referrals from existing specialist perinatal teams, health visitors, midwives and GPs from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, as well as from other parts of the country.

Staff at the MBU will also work closely with colleagues in NSFT’s Community Perinatal Team, which provides specialist care within the community to women with conditions such as severe postnatal depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis.

Caption: MBU staff and service users helped to choose the furniture which will be included in the new unit.

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