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RPAs Parent and Baby Unit welcomes nurse manager

Alison Green to lead specialist unit offering care for new parents with mental illness and their babies.

Woman standing in front of a construction site
SydneyConnect Image: Alison GreenAlison Green

Specialist care for new parents experiencing acute mental illness and their babies is now a step closer - with a nurse unit manager recruited to lead the team at RPA's Parent and Baby Unit.

It's the first public, purpose-built state-wide Parent and Baby Unit in New South Wales.

Alison Green, who has more than 30-years' experience specialising in mental health nursing in Australia and overseas, will lead the Unit's multidisciplinary team.

"This combines both my life interests - mental health and babies. It's very exciting because it's a new service, a new model of care and a new team. We'll have the opportunity to work closely and collaboratively with families and local health districts across NSW," Alison said.

The new Unit's multidisciplinary team will include a Nurse Practitioner, child and family health nurses, a clinical midwife consultant, consultant and trainee psychiatrists, paediatricians, allied health staff and a peer support worker.

The eight bedroom unit will enable a patient to remain with their baby during inpatient psychiatric care. They will also receive caregiving, parent-baby relationship and child development support.

Each bedroom will be able to accommodate a patient, babies under 12-months of age and a partner or family member. Rooms have a queen size bed and a daybed for carers staying overnight.

The unit will offer therapeutic spaces including lounge, dining and kitchen areas, outdoor courtyards, play areas, a mothercraft room, respite nursery, group spaces and a retreat room.

With experience as the nurse manager for the District's Perinatal Infant Mental Health Team in the community and RPA's Perinatal Mental Health Service, Alison has witnessed the impact of mental illness on families.

"Acute perinatal mental illness can be completely and utterly random, with no family history. Deterioration can be rapid and outcomes can be catastrophic if not picked up quickly.

"But, it's also incredibly responsive to treatment and it's possible to have a complete recovery. Keeping a primary care giver and their bub together is important and will increase the likelihood of recovery," she said.

Mental illnesses experienced during the perinatal period may include perinatal anxiety and depression, postpartum psychosis, or a relapse of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The Parent and Baby Unit will be located adjacent to the Professor Marie Bashir Centre which already provides a range of mental health services on the RPA campus.

Construction of the unit is fast progressing and is expected to open later this year. The Parent and Baby Unit is part of the NSW Government's $700 million State-Wide Mental Health Infrastructure Program.