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Rainbow Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit Wins National Accreditation

The Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit in Chelmsford received a three year accreditation from the Royal College of Psychiatrists Quality Network for Perinatal Mental Health Services (PQN) Accreditation Committee and is now recognised as a Centre of Excellence nationally.

The Unit, run by North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP), is a specialist inpatient unit providing mental health care and treatment to women from their third trimester of pregnancy and up to one year after delivery.  The service is for women who develop mental ill health during this time or have a pre-existing mental health condition. The baby is roomed with the mother wherever possible.

The Rainbow Unit already had very high standards of safety and care and the accreditation from the Royal College is confirmation and recognition of this.

Doreen Ngwenya, Matron, said:
‘The Rainbow team has worked very hard to achieve this accreditation and l am so proud  to be their Matron.’

The journey towards accreditation began three years ago and has involved staff, patients and carers. It has also included peer reviews and in-depth group sessions with patients.  There has been extra training for staff such as on bonding and attachment with baby (breastfeeding), common physical ailments in infancy, common physical ailments pre and early postnatal stages.

Ward manager, Claire Knight, has put in place extra audits to ensure standards stay high. She is very proud of all the hard work that staff and patients have put into this accreditation.

'The team is incredibly proud and thrilled of both the Unit and the service they deliver day after day. They took everything on board and were open and receptive to new ways to improve the lives of their patients and the young children.

‘It’s a great Unit offering an invaluable service. Everyone there loves their job and wants to be there: there is a different level of motivation. They are incredibly passionate, very close and supportive. To the outside world it may appear that we are working with an “easy” client base and it’s all fun and games but, in reality, it is very demanding work looking after both severely unwell mothers who are not bonding with their young child and the young child too who needs to bond with its mother.

‘Staff work very closely with the extended family and this was all factored in. This includes the partners, carers, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends. Special attention is given to the father who is unable to be with his partner and child at all times. I’m immensely proud of what staff and patients have done in achieving this accreditation.’

Peer reviews will continue throughout the three years and the high standards must be maintained. If any of the accredited teams throughout England fail to maintain their standards they will have the accreditation revoked. This ensures that each trust maintains or improves their current levels of service to patients.

The Rainbow unit is situated in the Linden Centre on the Broomfield Hospital site allowing easy access to the main hospital services including children’s, antenatal and labour wards.

The length of stay varies depending on each individual case. During this time, mothers have an individualised care plan which ensures that each area of care is considered and monitored including mental wellbeing, physical health, sleep, therapeutic observations, care and bonding with baby, therapeutic activities and discharge and leave planning. Leave into the community is built up gradually, from day leave to up to a week. This is achieved by working closely with other professionals and family involved in the mother and baby’s care.

The unit consists of five en-suite rooms each equipped with a baby’s cot and baby changing facility. This allows mothers to continue caring for their babies whilst receiving specialist treatment and support. The unit provides a milk kitchen which can be used by all mothers and their families. There is a fully equipped kitchen, which provides opportunities for mothers to cook for themselves and their babies.

Therapeutic Activity on Rainbow involves a number of groups and activities including: Coping Skills Group, Cooking, Walking Group, Scrapbooking, Art Therapy, Relaxation, Sensory room and Mum and Baby groups such as messy play.

Notes to editors
The (PQN) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists works with specialist perinatal mental health teams to improve the quality of mental health care for new mothers. Participating services are able to benchmark their practice against similar services and demonstrate the quality of care they provide.

There are three levels that need to be passed in the accreditation:
Type 1 – you need to be 100% compliant
Type 2 – you need to be 80% compliant
Type 3 – you need to be 60% compliant (some of these not appropriate for the unit as it is the smallest unit nationally with five beds).

all information provided by [email protected]
further information about Essex Partnership University can be found here

The aim of Rainbow is to:
Deliver the highest quality of care to mother and baby in a safe, friendly and supportive environment.
Treat the mother’s mental illness as early as possible.
Keep mother and baby together to promote mother and baby bonding, confidence and development of a routine that can be maintained when at home.
Provide a therapeutic timetable that includes activities with group, individual, mum and baby and self-led activities.
Provide information and support to families and carers.
Provide partnership working between other professionals involved in the mothers care.
Registered Mental Health Nurses
Associate Practitioners
Nursery Nurses
Occupational Therapist
Support Workers
Ward Secretary

Treatment on Rainbow will include:
Assessment of the mother’s needs and mental health issue.
A care plan which records the care the mother will receive while on the unit. This will be reviewed regularly and agreed with the mother.
Weekly review of mother’s treatment and progress.
Education on mental illness and medication.
Nursing time – 1:1 sessions with the unit nurses which allow the mother to share her feelings and empower her in problem solving.
Therapeutic Activity which includes: Coping Skills Group, Cooking, Walking Group, Scrapbooking, Art Therapy, Relaxation, Sensory room and Mum and Baby groups such as messy play.
Community meetings to allow mothers and staff to discuss the ward environment.
Practical guidance and support on baby’s care and safe parenting.
Leave into the community which is usually built up gradually, from day leave to up to a week.