Supporting mothers and babies with a vital new NHS service in Kent

Karen Dorey-Rees, Assistant Director, Specialist Services, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT), has overseen the tendering, development and delivery of Kent’s first Mother and Baby Unit for mums with acute perinatal mental health issues. It’s run by KMPT’s Mother and Infant Health Service (MIMHS) and is part of NHS England’s national transformation programme to help build capacity and increase mother and baby unit (MBU) provision for perinatal mental health. Rosewood has eight en-suite bedrooms and provides services for mums across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

While we are proudly celebrating the launch of Rosewood MBU in Dartford (17 September), the unit opened for referrals in August 2018. Its 30-strong multidisciplinary team, which includes psychiatry, psychology, occupational therapy, social worker, registered nurses, nursery nurses and healthcare workers, is already looking after mums and their babies and families who need specialist care and support.

Through the funding provided by NHS England Specialised Commissioning, we have developed an MBU that meets the College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) standards for perinatal mental health inpatient services.

Dedicated midwife and health visitor support is also provided though a service agreement with local maternity services at Darent Valley Hospital (DVH) and Kent Community Health Foundation Trust. The MBU provides acute inpatient care for mothers from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex who are experiencing acute perinatal mental health issues, such as post-partum psychosis and severe depression.

As a mum myself, it has been so rewarding to be part of a project supporting mothers and families. The people I’ve met along the way have been inspirational. We are all equally proud to be delivering this vital new service in the 70th anniversary year of the NHS.

After the initial excitement of winning the bid with support from our Executive Medical Director, the reality of the scale of work involved really set in! We set up a project board with representation from teams including communications and HR.  We had to review the physical environment with an architect and appoint a contractor to undertake the building work needed to make it right for us. We were lucky enough to receive early funding for key posts and the most valuable post recruited to in the early stages was the MBU Matron. Our Matron has been key to setting up operational processes and had the unenviable task of leading on the recruitment of all the staff!

One of the things of which we are most proud is our relentless focus on co-production and the teamwork involving mums with lived experience. Rosewood is designed by mums for mums and everything from the building design, staff uniform and décor to the content of our leaflets was shaped by them. Our mums have also helped to recruit new staff and interview candidates for key posts as part of a panel. It was vital to include mums with lived experience right from the start and the mums on our project board taught us so much! This inclusion of lived experience is reflected by the MBU’s staffing which includes three paid peer support workers.

Creating effective internal and external partnerships was a key priority, for example working closely with the trust’s Communications Team to design and produce materials such as a welcome leaflet, generate media coverage and drive recruitment events. This really helped to raise awareness of the MBU.  We worked hard to agree pathways with our partners; this includes referral and discharge pathways with key stakeholders, maternity, paediatric and urgent physical health pathways with DVH and primary care support for baby (including immunisations and health checks). For us, all this had to be done across three counties.

This has been an amazingly rewarding project and Rosewood MBU has achieved what we wanted with a mix of quality and safety in a homely environment.

Karen Dorey-Rees

Karen Dorey-Rees is the Assistant Director for Specialist Services in Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust. Karen qualified as a mental health nurse in 1989 and since then has worked in a variety of clinical and operational management roles in the South East of England.

Throughout her career Karen has been involved in developing services and has lead on key projects within adult mental health community and inpatient services to support the transformation of services to ensure improvements in the quality of care.

Over the past 2 years Karen has taken a lead role in the development of Perinatal Mental Health Services. This has included major expansion of the Community Perinatal Mental Health Services in Kent and the successful development of a perinatal mental health Mother and Baby Unit to serve women from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Karen champions the involvement of service users and carers and co-production has been at the heart of these service developments and continues with subsequent service delivery.

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  1. Sonia Rattu says:

    How can I be referred for perinatal mental health problems. Due in sept 2019 at Darent Valley

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Sonia,

      Unfortunately we cannot answer specific medical questions via our comments section. Please speak to your midwife and/or your GP and they will be able to advise you.

      Kind regards,
      NHS England