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Nurses are assessing mothers with mental health issues despite lack of guidance and formal training
Date:5/6/2009

arenting as a result of improved medication, enhanced community care and human rights reforms. Studies suggest that as many as 80 per cent are involved in the care of at least one child.

Research also indicates that social workers feel that assessments carried out by mental health nurses are very important when it comes to making decisions about a child's best interests.

But there has been little research to show how mental health nurses are influenced by their own opinions and instincts or whether they take into account how ethnicity, culture, race, religion and socio-economic status can affect how mothers care for their children.

"There are no national UK guidelines or validated tools for assessing the parenting capacity of mothers with a mental illness and no available evidence about how assessments are currently being conducted in psychiatric units" states Ms Rutherford.

"Where local assessment tools are employed, they tend to be used inconsistently and are open to the interpretation of the individual nurse using them. This raises real questions about the quality and objectiveness of the information being gathered."

The situation is being compounded by a lack of formalised training for mental health nurses involved in parenting assessments. And there are no shared professional learning forums with child social workers to ensure that multidisciplinary guidelines can be developed to support families.

As a result of their study, the researchers say the following are vital:

  1. An audit to show how parenting capacity is currently being assessed in psychiatric units, including how the results are being reported and what staff training is being provided.
  2. A qualitative study to establish the training needs of mental health nurses carrying out parenting assessments, in order to develop a standardised assessment tool.
  3. Further follow-up studies of mothers who have undergone parenting ass
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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