In Home and Away: Mothers and Babies in Institutional Spaces, the authors examine how health design in a psychiatric mother-baby unit can serve the needs of mothers and babies, their families, and the staff. Arguing that while mothers in institutional care are away from their own homes, they need not be away from their babies, the authors show that any examination of built space must consider how the mothers respond to the space and how the space responds to their needs for privacy, rest, routine, and wellness. Home and Away provides a comprehensive account of critical design for mental health, focusing on how health facilities can intentionally promote positive psychological outcomes through the design and use of space.
Kathleen Anne Connellan is a creative therapist.
Clemence Due is senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Adelaide.
Damien W. Riggs is professor in psychology at Flinders University and Australian Research Council future fellow.
Clare Bartholomaeus is adjunct research fellow at Flinders University.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: An Overview of Psychiatric Mother-Baby Unit Research
Chapter 3: The Design: Architect Perspectives
Chapter 4: The Space: Ethnographic Observations
Chapter 5: The Workspace: Staff Perspectives
Chapter 6: The Therapeutic Space: Service User Perspectives
Chapter 7: Conclusions
With gender as the lens and built spaces as the focus, Home and Away: Mothers and Babies in Institutional Spaces, takes a multidisciplinary approach to better understand the complexities of mental health care in westernised twenty-first century contexts. I highly recommend this text for both students and established health professionals working in perinatal services to challenge taken for granted assumptions and to facilitate critical reflexivity in clinical practice.
This extraordinarily careful and caring book examines in detail the successes and limitations of a small psychiatric Mother and Baby unit. Through extensive interviews and observations, the authors highlight a wide range of issues which are equally applicable to many healthcare projects. Studies of this quality and depth are rare and serve to inform all stakeholders including commissioners, designers, clinical and caring staff through structured research and evaluation. I recommend this book to anyone involved in any capacity who is considering embarking on a healthcare scheme of any size or value: there are lessons for us all.
Purpose-built mother-baby units (MBUs) are rare but are being planned internationally, each designed with ideas from professionals and user groups but with little evidence regarding optimal functionality. This book, which is based in careful observation, will appeal to those planning MBUs and those working in other health settings with mothers and babies where the built environment is important. The authors respectfully integrate perspectives from mental health clinicians, architects, and interior designers with those who seek and need care. The gender lens skilfully provides a balanced view of many competing and conflicting views! How exciting to see an erudite, detailed, and multi-faceted exploration of MBU design!
In Home and Away: Mothers and Babies in Institutional Spaces, the authors add a critical layer to our understanding of mental health design by insisting upon the centrality of gender. Through a multilayered and multidisciplinary analysis of an Australian mother-baby unit, the authors significantly expand the evidence base for evaluating mental health spaces. Drawing upon qualitative interviews as well as ethnographic observations, the researchers reveal the parallels and juxtapositions between design intentions and human experiences within one health-space. This book should be essential reading for scholars and practitioners interested in the intersections between gender, space and health.
Home and Away provides thought-provoking ideas on various types of built spaces. An important discussion in the conclusion of the book explores what it truly means for a space to be “purpose built.” The authors were successful in providing new ways of imagining the design and use of MBUs with the key focus on understanding use, the concept of home, and, more specifically, how a space can be both home and away for the families seeking care.
The book contributes much to raising the awareness that mental health is not only an individual issue, but an issue very much influenced by the social determinants of health, that is, the settings and conditions in which we live, which includes the built environment. The fact that we care about trying to get this right at such an important transition point in family life is heartening.