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Overcoming baby-bonding struggles and drug and alcohol misuse

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Note that any names of residents in our case studies have been changed to protect their privacy. Their stories, however, are real.

Nicky was a young mother who arrived at Majestic with her newborn baby for a 12 week parenting assessment. Nicky had a history drug and alcohol misuse, had led a chaotic lifestyle in the years prior to her arrival at Majestic, and had a tumultuous relationship with the baby’s father in which she was the victim of domestic abuse. She also had a strained relationship with her own mother. The local authority was concerned as to how the mother would be able to safely meet the needs of her baby daughter in light of her difficulties. It addition, it was evident that Nicky was struggling to bond with her baby.


Majestic provided an intensive support programme to help Nicky overcome her difficulties. We arranged for her to attend a local drug and alcohol support centre, and encouraged her to attend the weekly sessions. We undertook video guidance work to help the mother to attune herself to her baby’s needs and to try to strengthen the attachment between baby and mother. We also undertook self- esteem work which focused on raising Nicky’s self- confidence and self- esteem, and domestic violence work to help her begin to work through the abuse she had experienced in the relationship with the baby’s father. We also undertook sessions, both individually and jointly, between Nicky and her mother to try to address the strains in that relationship. It transpired through this work that Nicky’s mother had experienced post-natal depression when Nicky had been born which had impacted upon her ability to bond with her daughter.

We provided as many opportunities for Nicky to bond with her own daughter as possible, using role modelling, baby massage, baby sensory, play and video guidance work to develop this bond.

In the early stages of the placement, Nicky struggled to speak to her baby, was visibly lacking in confidence and withdrawn. With each passing week of the 12 week placement, Nicky’s confidence grew, as did her attentiveness to her daughter’s needs. By the end of the placement, Nicky had attended all of her sessions with the drug and alcohol support team and there was no evidence of any drug or alcohol use throughout the placement. She has transformed into a confident young woman, who was vocal both with staff and most importantly with her daughter. This was a significant development given how difficult she had found it to speak to her daughter in the earlier phase of her placement. She would play with her daughter every day, took her out into the community to parent and baby groups and other child focused activities, had ended her relationship with the baby’s father and the relationship between her and mother had significantly improved with both having a far deeper insight into one another.

We recommended that Nicky and her daughter return to the community at the end of the placement with  a robust support programme in place. We were clear that whilst the assessment had been positive, there would be challenges ahead for her once back in her community and closer to the baby’s father, and former drug using associates.

All staff were very friendly. They made it a really positive time for me. Majestic had helped me to bond with my baby a lot more than I would probably would have done. I had a very good journey at Majestic. I now see life in a different way


The outcome

Eight months after leaving Majestic, Nicky telephoned stating that she and her mother and baby would like to visit. We were delighted to hear from her and that she wished to return to visit. During her visit, she wanted to speak to her other residents about her time at Majestic, and expressed her views that if it hadn’t have been for the support offered by Majestic she didn’t think she would have been able to look after her daughter. She informed us that she had a job in a nursery which her child also attended and was doing very well. N’s mother accompanied her for the visit and also praised the support that Nicky had received and the difference this had made to her in life.

Ofsted 'Outstanding' rated assessments

Assessments are conducted extremely well. The balance between assessment, support and guidance is thoughtful and reflective. Assessments change to consider the current parenting issues and parents progress quickly and responsively. One parent said in feedback to the centre: ‘Everyone works as a team. I could not ask for more support from them. They have made me more confident.


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