Mothers’ experiences while admitted to a residential parenting unit: a qualitative study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Contemporary Nurse, 2019, 55 (2-3), pp. 95 - 108
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Background: In Australia, most states have residential parenting units that provide parenting support to parents (usually mothers) who are experiencing significant parenting difficulties with their infants or toddlers. The three most common reasons for admission to a residential service are: sleep and settling issues, adjustment to parenting, and feeding issues. Aim: The overall study aim was to explore mothers’ experience of a residential admission, as one tool to increase the “patient (mother) voice” within the residential parenting service and provide a mechanism for staff to understand the impact of their interactions with mothers on the care delivery process. Design: A qualitative descriptive approach and thematic analysis were used. One hundred mothers provided responses to a routinely collected questionnaire that asked about their experience while admitted to one of three residential parenting units. All mothers were eligible to participate. Results: Three major themes were identified: not knowing what to expect; working collaboratively with parents; and facilitating maternal learning. Mothers identified that they had increased parenting confidence levels, and gained new parenting knowledge and skills as an outcome of the residential stay. Conclusions: The value of a residential stay is clearly articulated by the mothers in the stories collected. These themes have affirmed that the residential units are parent-focused. Some mothers were surprised by the nurses’ willingness to listen to their preferences about their child’s care and to work with them adapting interventions to their cultural and home context.
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