Journal Article

Parenting Assessment in a Psychiatric Mother and Baby Unit

Gertrude Seneviratne, Sue Conroy and Maureen Marks

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 33, issue 4, pages 535-555
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Parenting Assessment in a Psychiatric Mother and Baby Unit

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Courts and social services often seek the advice of mental health professionals in deciding whether a mentally ill mother should remain the primary carer of her infant. This paper describes the referral pathways, outcomes at discharge and subsequently, of a sample of mothers referred for parenting assessments to a psychiatric Mother and Baby Unit. A further aim was to examine factors predicting outcome. A casenote study of sixty‐one consecutive referrals for in‐patient parenting assessment over a six‐year period is described. Social Services were contacted to establish developments at least nine months after discharge. Fewer than half of the mothers were discharged together with their babies at the end of the assessment period, and at follow‐up, less than a third were still caring for their children. Diagnosis of the mother's illness was the main factor determining whether she continued to care for her child both at discharge and at follow‐up; mothers with depression were more likely to remain primary carers. Variations in the timing and process of referrals related to a lack of antenatal planning were associated with increased rates of separation of mother and infant before the assessment. The findings illustrate the need for more integrated co‐ordination between professionals in mental health and children's services to ensure early planning for mothers and infants at risk.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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