POWs can support women all the way through their pregnancy and then for a short time post natally (usually a maximum of 8 weeks). In total the support can last for almost a year. This gives the POW the time they need to tackle the woman’s issues, but equally it gives them the opportunity to forge a useful and trusting relationship.
However they always have an eye on when their support will end – and much of what they do is to prepare the woman for this. Ideally she will be on a more stable footing and well able to be independent. For some women the journey is longer so there will still need to be a support network in place that adequately meets her needs. The aim to to ensure there is a seamless transition and that she doesn’t get lost in the system.
Michelle POW Programme Manager explains; “Ideally handover is something that is thought about before baby comes along. We like to ensure that every woman has at least one professional to turn to, should they need them. Frequently the handover is to a Family Support Worker so what we’ll try and do is arrange a visit to the local Children’s Centre while mum is still pregnant. Not only do they get to meet their Family Support Worker and begin to establish a relationship but they see what’s on offer and what they can tap into, so classes, groups etc.”
Michelle continues: “Sometimes mums-to-be, particularly those pregnant with their first baby, may worry about where to get support if they should need it once the POW is no longer around. This shows them that it’s there. It’s one less thing to worry about. It also means that they get familiar with the facilities before baby comes along, which is always a busy time, and it won’t all be new to them.”
Natasha’s coming to the end of her support from Rachael, her POW. She’s made real progress and it’s hoped that in a few months she’ll be ready to apply for her own house so she and her baby can live independently. For now, though, Rachael feels Natasha still needs some extra help – which is why she’s introducing her to what her local Children’s Centre can offer – and Natasha’s already applied to do their Positive Parenting course.
Some of the women we support are going to need more help than others. In many cases the POW has been able to solve the problems the woman was referred to us with, but in some complex cases this isn’t possible. In this situation it’s about working in partnership with other professionals and ensuring that everyone knows the part they have to play.
Miriam, one of our POWs, has concerns about one of the women she’s supporting: “She had her baby six weeks ago but due to some recent changes both she and I feel she needs some specialist help. So I’m going to initiate a CAF (Common Assessment Framework). I’m just filling out the paperwork to get things underway because my aim is to make sure the initial meeting happens before my support ends. I’d like to see who’ll be responsible for doing what and make sure someone takes over the role I’ve been doing which has been sort of co-ordinating things”
Michelle adds: “It depends on the woman. We take a lead from her and how well she’s coping. What is set is that handover must happen. There are things we do as part of it that are standard, like making sure mum knows how to register the birth, that she’s getting the benefits she’s entitled to and that immunisations are booked in, but what support remains is a unique thing; it’s tailored to the individual.”