Florence House mother and baby unit

Our approach and commitment to you

Here at Florence House we support women experiencing serious mental health challenges during pregnancy or after the birth of their baby.

Our team is specially trained in supporting mums with problems of this kind. We can support you on a one to one basis and will always involve your family in decisions about your treatment, if you would like them to be involved. The aim of our service is to help you recover, gain confidence as a mum and return to your family home.

Mother and baby.JPGWe aim to help you with all aspects of your recovery, including your physical health, your mental wellbeing and your confidence as a mum. We are committed to helping you and your family care for and bond with your baby.

We are not here to judge you and we will always be open and honest with you. We have tried to create a welcoming environment here on our mother and baby unit so that you and your baby can feel comfortable and safe while you are both with us.

We know what a difficult time this can be for you and your family, but have worked with many mums with issues similar to yours and have successfully supported them and their families on their journey of recovery.

“Florence House had a warm and cosy feel to it, which made me feel relaxed and comfortable during my stay.”

Meet the team

We have a team of many different professionals to support you in your recovery and looking after your baby.

Mental health nurses.JPGMental health nurses

Nurses are available on the ward at all times and are here to support you with your recovery. They will be able to offer you 1:1 help and support day to day and offer guidance and advice about mental health problems, treatment, medication and provide psychological interventions.

Nursery nurses.JPGNursery nurses

Nursery nurses are here to offer you support and guidance with caring for your baby. They can offer advice on development, feeding, weaning, sleeping and general health. They can also offer a range of activities such as sensory play and messy play, as well as specific activities to help promote your bond and attachment, such as baby massage.

Occupational therapist.JPGOccupational therapist

An occupational therapist will meet with you to explore your daily routines, interests and experiences with mothering occupations. They aim to support you to access the activities which you need to do, want to do, and would like to do. They offer one to one sessions as well as supporting you to access community activities and groups.


Psychologists can offer therapies, sometimes referred to as talking therapies, which can help to explore your difficulties in a safe, non-judgemental setting. They aim to help you understand your feelings in the context of your past experiences and will work with you towards a greater sense of wellbeing, confidence and empowerment.

Peer support workers.JPGPeer support workers

Peers are people with lived experience of perinatal mental illness, who have either spent time at Florence House or have been supported by our community team. Having the opportunity to talk to someone with lived experience about their recovery can be a key part of your journey. The peers offer group activities and one to one informal conversations.


There are junior doctors and consultant who will be involved in looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. They will meet with you for regular reviews of your care and progress. They may prescribe medication or make other recommendations for treatment in partnership with the rest of the team involved in your care.

Care planning

How long will I be here?

Everyone’s needs are different and people stay with us for varying lengths of time. During your stay, our team will be working with you and your loved ones towards returning home when your mental health has improved. We will work closely with our community perinatal team or your own local community team if you are out of area - taking into account the needs of you, your baby and your family.

Your care plan is written in partnership with you and your family (if you want them to be involved) and the professionals supporting you. Others who could be involved in your care plan are your community mental health team, your midwife, health visitor, GP and other professionals on our unit. Among other things, your care plan will describe the ‘triggers’ that might have contributed to you becoming unwell and the things that will help you towards your recovery, including how we and others can support you and how best to work towards discharge throughout your stay with us.

Your stay

Daily routine


Regularly reviewing your medication is an important part of your care. You may already be taking prescribed medication when you arrive and you may be prescribed new or additional medication to help you during your stay with us. All medications must be kept in our clinic room. We have set times every day when we will give you your medication. If you need medication outside these times please speak to one of our nurses.


Visiting times have been developed in order to enable you to have time to recover at your own pace. We have tried to have protected time for you and your baby, however we are happy to discuss alternative arrangements to suit you and your family and friends.

Visiting times for the unit are:
Monday to Friday: 4-8pm
Weekends: 2-8pm


All of your meals are provided. There is a menu in the dining room so that you can see what will be available.
We can accommodate a variety of diets so please let us know if you have any specific requirements.
Breakfast:7.30am  Lunch: midday Dinner: 6pm


A member of our team will pop in to see you and your baby at least every hour during your stay. We will check how you are doing and ask if you need any extra help or support. We may need to increase your support and check to see how you are several times every hour, or sometimes you and/or your baby might need one to one support. This is not a judgement on you or your parenting but is so that we can offer you the best care when you are unwell. We will always discuss the reasons for these decisions with you and review the situation regularly.

No smoking.JPGCan I smoke?

Our organisation became completely smoke free in March 2018. Smoking is not permitted by people staying with us, visitors or staff, in any part of the building or on site. We can support you if you would like nicotine replacement therapy or need help with stopping smoking during your stay with us.

"Asking for and accepting help is not failing. Instead it shows personal insight and a willingness to look at things differently."

Can I leave the unit?

Our staff will encourage and support you in being able to take time away from the unit, to help maintain your independence and to build your confidence in your recovery and returning home.

Please talk to one of the nurses if you would like to take some time away from the unit.
However, we do need to ensure that you and your baby are supported and safe, so we will make decisions about you leaving the unit on an individual basis.

If you are here as a voluntary patient you are not legally obliged to stay on the unit, but we do ask that you always discuss your leave with one of the nurses. If we do not feel that you are safe to leave the unit, we will always tell you why, talk about options and review your leave regularly with you.

If you are here under a section of the Mental Health Act then any leave will need to be discussed.

Your belongings

Upon arrival at Florence House your belongings will be searched by staff as part of your admission. Items such as razors, medication and lighters may be removed and kept in a safe place in order to ensure the safety of all those staying on the unit. If you wish to use any of these items during your stay please ask a member of staff.

Please be aware that we are unable to accept responsibility for any personal items brought onto the unit. If you have items of personal significance or monetary value please consider leaving them at home or using the personal safe which is found in your wardrobe. Please ask a member or staff and they will show you how to use the safe.

Your baby

Can I sleep with my baby?

You and your baby will have your own bedroom during your stay. There is a bed for you with a cot next to it for your baby to sleep in. There is also a nursery where your baby can sleep for the first few nights if needed, and your baby can then move back into your bedroom with you. As we follow the NHS safe sleeping guidelines we are unable to facilitate any co-sleeping (mum and baby sharing the same bed).

We advise that you will need the following items for your stay:

  • baby milk/food
  • bottles and steriliser
  • nappies and wipes
  • baby blankets
  • pram or baby carrier
  • car seat.

The following items are already provided by the ward:

  • cots
  • highchairs
  • baby bouncers
  • playmats and activity centres
  • apram and car seat are available on the ward if needed
  • microwave sterilisers
  • baby baths.

Please do not bring the following items onto the unit due to safety concerns and our limited space

  • stands for Moses baskets (Moses baskets can be placed directly in the cot)
  • sleep positioners, pods or nests
  • cot bumpers
  • cot duvets/pillows
  • bumbo chairs
  • jumparoos
  • door bouncers.

Father and baby.JPGSupport

Information for dads and families

You know the person in our care far better than we do and it is very useful for us to hear about your thoughts and concerns, how you think things have been going, what might be triggering certain behaviours and anything else that might be helpful in supporting mum and her baby.

We will do whatever we can to keep you involved, and we will always check with mum that she is happy for this to happen. You are always welcome to talk to a member of our team. This might be about a diagnosis, treatment options, progress, concerns or support for you and/or other children in the family.

We can talk to you about your role as a carer if necessary, and talk to you about a carer’s assessment.

We know from experience that dads and other children in the family can find this a very stressful and upsetting time and we can help you to make sure that you are getting the support you need. We can also signpost you in the direction of helpful information and resources and arrange for you to make contact with other people who have experienced similar situations – their input, understanding and support will be invaluable.

“My whole family was made to feel included and welcome during my stay at Florence House. I always remember a nursery nurse blowing bubbles with my two year old daughter when she came into visit and the sound of her laughter and excitement.”


Ward arrangement

Florence House is a five-bedded unit, with single bedrooms. Each bedroom is equipped with a bed for you, a cot for baby and a wardrobe, chest of drawers, changing table and chair. We have shared bathroom facilities which include a bath and a shower and provide a separate baby bath for each bedroom.

There is access to a kitchen at all times. Although meals are provided, you are welcome to make food for yourself and your baby. The ward has 24-hour access to a courtyard, although this can be locked for safety reasons if required. There is a communal lounge, dining room and nursery, with access to a variety of toys, play mats and activities for both mum and baby. Although the ward is small, we pride ourselves on having a welcoming and homely atmosphere.


There are laundry facilities for you to use on the unit, including a washer and dryer. We supply non-bio washing powder but you are welcome to use your own if you wish. We also supply you with towels and bedding, which we send off to be professionally laundered. However, if you use any of the baby bedding, please wash this yourself on the ward. Please ask a member of our team if you need any help with this.


We understand how important it is to stay in contact with friends and family so can provide you with an iPad for the duration of your stay. If you would like to use one please speak to a member of the team who will arrange this for you.


We have Wi-Fi available, please ask a member of staff for the username and password.


General information

Infection control

We work hard to minimise any risk of infection to the people in our care, their visitors and our staff. This is especially important when looking after new mums, babies and pregnant women, as they are particularly likely to pick up infections. We ask that everyone follows good hand hygiene and uses the alcohol gel when entering the unit. If visitors are unwell, or may still be infectious from a recent illness, we ask that they phone ahead to discuss whether they should visit. If visitors have sickness and diarrhoea we ask that they do not attend the ward for 48 hours after their last symptom.

Physical health

We have a junior doctor working with the consultant on the unit during office hours and an on-call doctor outside normal working hours. While you are staying on the unit we will support you to maintain all of your maternity, health visitor and GP appointments as much as we possibly can. If you do not live locally we will recommend you and your baby register temporarily with Westbourne GP surgery, so all your primary care needs can be met

Mobile phones

We recognise that staying in contact with friends and family is important, however, we ask that if you are taking photos of your baby, or are video calling anyone, to please ensure that you do this in private areas away from other patients and staff. If you use social media please be aware of what information you are sharing and do not share information about other patients or their children. If it is felt that the use of the phone is impacting on your care, staff will discuss this with you

Spiritual, cultural + gender needs

Throughout your admission we will endeavour to meet all your needs. We have a chaplain who we can arrange to come and meet with you, as well as access to a multi faith room and faith books.

Plastic bags

Dorset HealthCare asks that patients do not use plastic bags whilst staying on our units. We have paper bags available for your use, please ask a member of staff.

Fire alarm test

There is a fire alarm test that takes place on a Thursday at approximately 11am. If there is a fire alarm outside of this time, staff will advise you of what action to take.


We will endeavour to arrange interpreting services when we can for mum’s who’s first language is not English. We are able to book interpreters to attend for meetings, 1:1 conversations, translate written information and telephone consultations.

Second opinion

If you are not sure about your diagnosis or the treatment you are receiving, you can speak to one of the team about requesting a second opinion from another psychiatrist, who will meet with you to discuss your care and treatment.

Accessing health records

During your stay, staff will keep your health records up to date with your treatment and progress. You can request to see your notes by writing a letter to medical records. If you require more information, please speak with a member of the team.

Code of conduct

All health care professionals are governed by a code of conduct, but we also work towards mutual expectations between everyone that is on the ward. We ask that everyone is respectful of each other, showing compassion and empathy to ourselves and others.

Complaints, concerns and compliments

Please speak to the nursing team if you have any questions as we are here to support you and your baby and make your stay as comfortable as possible. If you have any concerns, complaints or compliments please speak to a member of our team. You can also contact our patient advice and liaison team.

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