Agnes Parent and Infant Unit

Specialist emotional and psychological support to families

The Agnes Unit is LRH's residential parent and infant unit. It has been established to provide specialist emotional and psychological support to families experiencing challenges surrounding adjustment to parenthood following the arrival of a new baby, up to twelve months of age.

The Agnes Unit is a safe and supportive space for parents to work through mental health challenges, and a place for parents and infants to get to know each other and strengthen their relationship.

Located within the hospital grounds, Agnes Unit is a free early intervention program for people in Gippsland, consisting of five beds, operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and features:

+ 5 generous sized single rooms with an en-suite
+ Facilities for your partner to stay
+ A full kitchen, living and dining room
+ An outdoor space, with BBQ facilities

It is anticipated that most admissions will be for a two-week period, with families returning home for one to two nights of leave during their stay.

What can I expect during my stay?

The unit provides a calming space for you and your baby to get to know each other and to enjoy being together.

Our facilities replicate a home-like environment that is warm and nurturing with many areas for you and your baby to relax and bond, or socialise with other mothers in the program.

Our program includes individual and group work that focuses on enhancing the bond between the infant and their parent/s and family.

The program has been designed to help parents to:

  • Gain an understanding of their symptoms and the impact on well-being.
  • Develop skills to better manage and regulate emotions.
  • Promote attachment with the infant.

Throughout your stay with us, you have regular and ongoing assessment to ensure your treatment plan is tailored to meet your needs and goals. You are supported by a multidisciplinary team including Psychiatrist, who specializes in the concerns of new parents and their infants, Psychiatric Nurses, Midwives, Maternal Child Health Nurse, Psychologist and Social worker.

What is perinatal mental health?

Perinatal and infant mental health is the term we use to describe a mother’s psychological well-being and that impact on their quality of bonding with their baby.

Perinatal mental health affects around 100,000 families across Australia every year. Perinatal anxiety and depression are common, but they are also treatable.

1 in 5 expecting or new mothers and 1 in 10 expecting or new fathers will experience perinatal anxiety and/or depression symptoms.

Left untreated, perinatal mental health can have long-lasting impacts on parents, partners, babies and families. The key to accessing effective mental health support is being able to recognise the signs that you’re not coping – and finding the courage to ask for help.

Having a baby can bring feelings of joy and fulfillment, but it can also be a time of great change, a time of sleep deprivation, stress and even sadness and anxiety. Parents can experience intense emotions that can be exhausting and frightening.

Many parents may feel alone in their struggle, with difficult thoughts and feelings, and suffer in silence. These feelings can affect parent’s ability to enjoy their infant and may impact on their relationship with their infant and other family members.

Agnes Unit is designed to assist families to gain confidence in their ability of being a parent and bring about positive changes.

What does the Agnes Unit actually look like?

It’s a common question for many people.

To help, we have put together this short video with Registered Psychiatric Nurse, Rebecca giving us a very quick tour of the unit.


More information

LRH has featured the Agnes Unit in its ‘News’ page on many occasions.

You will find several written pieces there and a number of video pieces on LRH’s YouTube page.

How to get help?

If you feel you need some assistance or would benefit from a stay at Agnes Unit, please discuss with a health professional you are involved with (this may be your GP, maternal child health nurse or mental health worker).
If this is not possible you can ring the unit directly.

Enquiries and referrals can be made by contacting Agnes Unit directly on 5173-8553