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Agency collaboration

    Ms S was pregnant when she entered Guthrie House having been collected by staff from prison in January 2016.

    She had been referred to Guthrie House by Domestic Violence NSW, Blacktown Office. Prior to her incarceration Ms S was residing with a violent partner. Upon release from prison Ms S was homeless, pregnant and participating in pharmacotherapy treatment.

    In addition, she had complex behavioural and mental health issues. At that time her immediate family had severed all contact with Ms S and she was very much alone in her pending birth. The Family Worker worked tirelessly to prepare Ms S for her life as a mother. Ms S was accompanied to every pre- and post-natal appointment, mental health assessment and treatment. Staff, residents and the Guthrie House Chaplain visited Ms S in hospital following the birth of her son.

    Upon their return to Guthrie House the Family Worker worked closely with Ms S, who had elected to reduce her methadone dose with a view to ceasing pharmacotherapy treatment. The Family Worker had to enact safe parenting practices for the new mother who was managing her newborn son’s opiate reduction regime and minor health concerns. The Family Worker also had to ensure her relationship with Family and Community Services was at an optimum. The Guthrie House Family Worker had to attend many case conferences with Ms S, Family and Community Services, Domestic Violence NSW, the social worker at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Marrickville Mental Health Team and the post-natal training and community supports that were in place.

    During their six months’ residency in Guthrie House Ms S and her son incrementally reduced to the point of ceasing all opiate replacement therapy. Family reconciliation was achieved, Ms S’s father came to meet his grandson and continue his familial support.

    The Family Worker sourced a safe and secure supported residential program for mother and son, where Ms S could continue to learn the skills to be a great mother and have the ongoing support for her mental and behavioural stability.

    This is an example of agency case work collaboration, child protection, domestic violence protection and community supports in place to assist the mother and son. All Guthrie House staff worked together with dedication to progress the mental and physical wellbeing of Ms S, and the health and development of her son.