Think child, think parent, think family: a guide to parental mental health and child welfare

Planning care

Problems with current practice

Difficulties seem to arise in developing care plans when more than one agency is involved. This is because staff from different disciplines often adopt different views. For example, staff from adult mental health services may not acknowledge that there is a risk of harm to children. At the same time, children's services staff may not accept that change might be possible for the parent. As a result, any joint care plans may not realise the potential to promote the resilience of either the parent or the child. In the absence of any preventative measures and forward planning, families can end up 'drifting' until crisis point is reached.

It also seems that there is little coordination of the care plans for the individuals within a family. For example, young carers' assessments are not routinely fed into adults' care plans. Similarly, the views of young people are often not taken into account when making decisions about the care and support of adult family members.

In a successful service:

Recommendations for change

When writing, sharing and coordinating adult and child care plans, staff should ensure that:

Staff need to develop care plans that aim to increase resilience. Research has shown that increasing every family member's understanding of a parent's mental health problem is highly successful in terms of increasing their ability to cope. Therefore, care plans need to provide details of how:

Staff should consider whether using a 'personal budget' will give greater flexibility to the care package to better meet the needs of the individual and the family.

Link: SCIE Report 20: Personalisation: a rough guide

Contingency and crisis plans (may also be relevant to advance directives) should include how many children the parent has, their ages and gender, and the arrangements for their care to be put in place if the parent is not able to care for them at any time e.g. if a parent is admitted to hospital.

Organisations need to:

Managers need to: