This report and draft guidelines, part of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Born into Care series, finds that many opportunities to support parents are being missed.
Informed by the lived experience of parents and professionals, it identifies key challenges and provides much-needed consensus and recommendations for multi-agency working and seamless communication when safeguarding concerns are raised that are likely to lead to state intervention at birth.
The guidelines, designed to introduce more sensitive and humane practice to an event which is often traumatic for parents and distressing for professionals involved, will be tested with partner research sites in England and Wales before final publication in autumn 2022.
We welcome the consideration of practice throughout the parents’ journeys, from pre-conception care to returning home and the placement of babies in care. For maternity care, recommendations include consensus around the provision of continuity of care, continuity of professional involvement from the community setting, and a recognition of the importance of midwives trained in trauma-informed care. The report also identifies challenges around ensuring women receive postnatal care including the six week check and mental health screening, and advocates for priority pathways and an assertive outreach approach to ensure women receive this vital aspect of maternity care.
The final guidance will help shape specialist support for extremely vulnerable families, but it is vital that services are adequately resourced and maternity staff supported to make this best practice a reality.
Commenting, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Chief Executive Gill Walton said:
“Midwives are often the first point of contact and one of the main providers of antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care for women and their babies, so we really welcome these guidelines. Both midwives and obstetricians have safeguarding responsibilities and strong multi-disciplinary teamwork within maternity teams and services is central to improving outcomes and the experience of parents. This must also be followed by clear communications between all agencies involved so issues are not missed. Midwives will care for women in complex and challenging situations and continuity of care and carer is key here so there are opportunities for disclosure and early identification of warning signs. We also must ensure we have enough midwives and specialist midwives to offer high quality personalised, trauma informed maternity care to those that need it most.”
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“We welcome these guidelines as a vital step to ensuring that more support is available for women and parents throughout their pregnancy journey and into postnatal care.
“Recognising and acting on safeguarding concerns can be very distressing for parents and healthcare professionals involved. These much needed recommendations will introduce more sensitive approaches that prioritise services which offer inclusive and continuous support and decision making. We want to ensure the safety of every woman and their baby. Identifying the challenges and the need for more resources will help to develop and deliver this specialist support.”
Contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7986 183167 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
- The Born into Care seires can be found here