New mums requiring specialist care for a severe mental illness can now have their babies stay with them at NSW's first public, purpose-built Mother and Baby Unit.
Premier Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor opened the new facility at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Camperdown today after meeting with the unit's specialist team.
Mr Perrottet said it is the first state-wide facility designed to keep families together when a mother requires hospitalisation for a severe perinatal mental illness.
"We know how important it is for new parents to form an emotional bond in those early formative months after child-birth and this unit will enable new mums to do that while also receiving the specialist care and support they need," Mr Perrottet said.
Named 'Naamuru', a local Aboriginal dialect word meaning 'leading the way', the unit will care for up to 120 NSW residents a year who have infants up to 12 months of age.
Mrs Taylor said the eight-bed unit is staffed by specialist perinatal health professionals who can attend to the mental health needs of the mother, as well as facilitate appropriate care of the baby and promote positive mother-baby interactions.
"New mums can now receive the best possible perinatal treatment close to their newest family members, while being supported to form a strong attachment with their baby. Partners will be welcome to stay for certain periods, so they can be an active supporter in the recovery process," Mrs Taylor said.
Mr Hazzard said the unit complements a range of mental health services provided by the nearby Professor Marie Bashir Centre and RPA's Women and Babies services.
"Being a new parent is challenging at the best of times. This wonderful new facility aims to provide the right kind of support to mums with a mental illness so they can rejoin their loved ones at home as quickly as possible," Mr Hazzard said.
Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate the mother, up to two infants under 12-months of age and a partner or family member. There are also therapeutic spaces, including a 24-hour respite nursery; a mothercraft room; dining and kitchen areas; outdoor courtyards; play areas; and a retreat room.
"RPA is proud to be the home of the state's first public unit providing acute, inpatient care and treatment for parents from across NSW who are experiencing psychiatric illness in the perinatal period alongside their baby," Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson said.
The Mother and Baby Unit is part of the NSW Government's $700 million Statewide Mental Health Infrastructure Program – the single biggest investment in mental health infrastructure in NSW to date. A second state-wide facility at Westmead Hospital is expected to open later in the year.