A £4m unit which will offer new mothers with serious mental health problems specialist help closer to home is gearing up to welcome its first patients when it officially opens this month.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Kingfisher Mother and Baby Unit (MBU), which is at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich, will open its doors to admissions on 28 January. 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 MBU will offer a range of therapeutic services, including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and 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 to patients.
NSFT has recruited more than 30 mental health nurses, assistant practitioners, therapists, support workers, social workers and nursery nurses to run the service. They will work closely with NSFT’s Community Perinatal Teams in Norfolk and Suffolk, which provide specialist care within the community for conditions such as severe postnatal depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis, as well as perinatal teams in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Susan Stolworthy, NSFT’s Operational Manager for Perinatal Services (Norfolk and Waveney), said: “We are delighted that this vital new unit will be able to welcome its first patients next week. It will make a real difference to this vulnerable group, ensuring they are able to stay with their newborn and receive the best possible care closer to home.
“Our new team has bonded really well over the past few months, completing a range of specialist training to make sure they can provide high quality, evidence-based care to new mums and their babies. Staff have also visited other MBUs across the country so that they can learn from others and bring back best practice to benefit patients here in East Anglia.
“We look forward to working with new mothers and providing them with potentially life-changing care so that they can develop a strong bond with their baby and go on to enjoy a healthy future.”
The MBU will accept referrals from existing specialist perinatal teams, health visitors, midwives and GPs from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, as well as other parts of the country.
Its décor has been designed in partnership with staff and service users, and uses a muted, homely and welcoming colour palette. Each of the eight en-suite bedrooms has been identified by a different flower design on the door, while local artists Toby Rampton and Bev Coraldean have also created bespoke works for the unit.
For more information about the MBU, visit www.nsft.uk/kingfisherMBU
Staff case study – Faye Newman – “There’s so much passion and drive to make this work”
One of NSFT’s first Nursery Nurses has spoken of her excitement at the prospect of delivering a vital new service which will support mums to overcome serious mental health problems and build strong bonds with their babies.
Faye Newman began her career working in a nursery before moving to Thorpe Hamlet Children’s Centre, in Norwich, about four years ago. She joined NSFT in February.
“This is a really exciting opportunity and I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” said Faye. “It’s nice to be able to help shape something which is brand-new. Everyone has been really enthusiastic – the team all really want to be here and there is so much passion and drive to make it work.”
Faye and her colleagues will be on hand 24/7 at the MBU to offer interventions such as baby massage and support for bonding and brain growth, as well as practical help with caring for the babies wherever necessary.
“I’ve always been interested in mental health, and have worked with women who have been struggling with a variety of issues in the past,” added Faye. “I thought this was a really exciting opportunity which would give me the chance to be part of something completely new while also shaping my own practice.
“Our role is to limit the impact which the mother’s condition has on their ability to bond with and care for their baby. We want them to be able to get the treatment they need so that the relationship they have with their baby can flourish.”
Case study – Issie Raney – “It’s interesting and worthwhile and will make a real difference to people”
A Nursery Nurse has shared her desire to make a real difference to mothers with serious mental health problems and their new babies.
Issie Raney joined NSFT in February after spending three years at the East City and Framingham Earl Area Children's Centre in Norwich.
“I was attracted to the MBU role as I felt like it was really interesting and worthwhile, and something which would make a real difference to people,” said Issie. “It’s also nice to be part of something from the beginning as you feel as if you are helping to build it for the future.
“Our role is to support the mum to get better while maintaining their attachment with their baby. The fact we are here will hopefully take some of the pressure off the other mental health professionals in the team as we can focus purely on the baby. We will also use outcome measures to show the mums just how far they have come, as it can sometimes be difficult for people to appreciate the progress they have made.
“We are proud that we will be able to provide a service which mums would have either had to travel significant distances to access before, or be separated from their baby, neither of which is ideal for their recovery.”
Case study – Dr Iain Tweedlie – “We’re all really looking forward to getting started”
A former GP with a longstanding interest in mental healthcare has spoken of his excitement at taking on a brand-new role and providing vital support to new mums at the MBU.
Dr Iain Tweedlie has been appointed as Psychiatry Specialist Doctor, and will take responsibility for the mental health and emotional wellbeing of women receiving care at the unit, as well as helping them to bond with their newborns.
He has moved to his new role from Wellbeing Norfolk & Waveney, where he spent three years supporting people with common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and low mood.
“We’re all really looking forward to getting started and getting our teeth into delivering this new service, which will offer specialist care closer to home to mothers from across the region,” said Dr Tweedlie. “There is so much physical health to look after with new mums and their babies – this seemed like the ideal opportunity to give mental health the same attention.
“The role won’t just involve working with the mother, but will also be about her relationship with her baby. It’s vital for us to get that bond right as hopefully that will mean the infant will grow up relating to the world in a positive way, in turn preventing a lot of potential attachment issues in the longer term.”
Case study – Jenny Ormsby – Modern Matron returns to her roots (pictured above)
A Modern Matron who trained with NSFT has spoken of the importance of creating a strong bond between mothers and their new babies after returning to the Trust to take up a role in its Mother and Baby Unit (MBU).
Jenny Ormsby completed her degree in mental health nursing at the University of East Anglia about 12 years ago, spending much of her time at the School of Nursing, which was then based at Hellesdon Hospital.
She went onto work at both the Norvic Clinic in Norwich and Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth before moving to West London Mental Health Trust, where she held a variety of positions before being appointed Modern Matron at the Kingfisher MBU.
“It’s an exciting job and we are all looking forward to getting started,” said Jenny, who was brought up in Lowestoft. “We will be caring for a maximum of eight women at any one time, so will really be able to commit to providing evidence-based treatment, reducing risk and focusing on the relationship between the mother and baby.
“We will also concentrate on reducing the impact which the mum’s mental health has on the child, potentially setting them up for a healthier, happier life in the long term.”
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