The Marlborough Family Day Unit has been in existence for 10 years. It is part of the Marlborough Family Service, a community-based psychiatric service for patients of all ages. Its location is the site of the former Marlborough Day Hospital in London NW8. The Day Unit was created in 1977 by Dr Alan Cooklin who is still the consultant in charge of the whole service. The reason for setting up such a unit was to experiment with new ways of dealing with what is now so fashionably termed ‘multi-problem families’. These are families where one or more members have been in extensive contact with psychiatric and social services. Multiple hospitalisations, removal of children into care, and general chaotic behaviour are the presenting ‘symptoms’. Such families have unrivalled skills in collecting agencies and professionals like flypaper and making it very difficult for anyone to leave the field given the enormous anxiety created all round.
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