An innovative project which has helped make sure scores of babies at risk of being taken into care can remain with their families has been awarded a top innovation prize by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).
The Norfolk Parent Infant Mental Health Attachment Project (NPIMHAP) was presented with the accolade during the Trust’s ‘Putting People First’ awards, which took place at Sprowston Manor, near Norwich, on Thursday (5 May).
The project received one of nine staff-nominated prizes during the evening. In addition and for the first time, two Public Choice awards were also presented after service users and carers were invited to vote for their mental health heroes and say thank you publicly for the outstanding care they have received.
The NPIMHAP nomination was one of nearly 200 received in the countdown to the ceremony, and came from Verity Smith, Assistant Psychologist with the Children, Families and Young People’s Service.
She praised the innovation of project leads Dr Catherine Thomas, Dr Danny Taggart and Dr Richard Pratt, who she described as “dedicated, thoughtful” and always willing to promote different ways of thinking.
“These three are outstanding in their work because of their continued enthusiasm to share their expertise and disseminate the learning achieved during the project,” said Verity. “Their creative approach has enabled service users to receive an individualised package of care, which is evidence based and multi-levelled.”
The project is a partnership between NSFT and Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services, and works intensively with families where a specific safeguarding concern has been raised with the aim of reducing the number being taken into care.
Since it began in 2015, it has worked with around 55 families, offering them targeted mental health support and specialist therapy to encourage bonding and improve the relationship between parents and babies. This has led to a 27% reduction in the number of babies taken into care.
Based in children’s centres in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth, the project is delivered by a team of therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, family support workers, heath visitors and midwives.
Dr Pratt, Clinical Psychologist at NSFT, said: “A strong attachment between a parent and their baby is vital as it helps the baby to feel safe and able to explore the world as they develop. But a number of things can get in the way of that attachment and if the parent is struggling, it can be more difficult for the child to develop that bond.
“Our aim is to support the parent, improve attachment and have a positive impact on the family’s emotional experiences during a crucial stage of the baby’s development, in turn helping them remain together.”
Michael Scott, NSFT Chief Executive, said: “As a Trust, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the care we provide to our service users. The Norfolk Parent Infant Mental Health Attachment Project is a fantastic example of the positive impact which these forward-thinking approaches can have on vulnerable families.
“Our congratulations go to everyone who makes up the NPIMHAP team for their hard work and dedication in delivering the best possible care.”
The awards were sponsored by media company Archant and Sprowston Manor.
To read NSFT’s special awards magazine, which gives details of all of the winners and runners-up, visit www.nsft.nhs.uk/insight