Stanley, Nicky, Penhale, B, Riordan, D and Holden, S
Working on the interface: identifying professional responses to families with mental health and child-care needs.
Health and Social Care in the Community , 11
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2524.2003.00428.x
The gaps between mental health and child-care services constitute a recognised barrier to providing effective services to families where parents have mental health problems. Recent guidance exhorts professionals to coordinate and collaborate more consistently in this area of work. The present study aimed to identify the barriers to inter-professional collaboration through a survey of 500 health and social care professionals. The views of 11 mothers with severe mental health problems whose children had been subject to a child protection case conference were also interrogated through two sets of interviews. The study found that communication problems were identified more frequently between child care workers and adult psychiatrists than between other groups. Communication between general practitioners and child-care workers was also more likely to be described as problematic. While there was some support amongst practitioners for child-care workers to assume a coordinating or lead role in such cases, this support was not overwhelming, and reflected professional interests and alliances. The mothers themselves valued support from professionals whom they felt were ‘there for them’ and whom they could trust. There was evidence from the responses of child-care social workers that they lacked the capacity to fill this role in relation to parents and their statutory child-care responsibilities may make it particularly difficult for them to do so. The authors recommend that a dyad of workers from the child-care and community mental health services should share the coordinating key worker role in such cases.
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