Child and Adolescent Health Service

Services A – Z

 

Princess Margaret Hospital

Assessment and treatment - Eating Disorders Program

What happens during an assessment?

Assessments are scheduled for Monday and Tuesdays mornings, and optimally both parents would attend with the young person.

A first interview with a mental health clinician will help collect information of how the eating disorder may have developed and how it is affecting the young person and their family. A full physical examination and interview with the paediatrician and a nutritional assessment with the dietitian will provide insight into the physical and nutritional effects caused by eating disorder behaviours. Further interviews with the child and parents separately, as well as a brief interview with the physiotherapist and school teacher will complete the diagnostic picture.

What does treatment look like?

Once a diagnosis has been made and the family accepts treatment within our service, a care coordinator will be assigned who is the contact person for the family, and who will be up-to-date with treatment and progress.

Regular medical appointments are essential to ensure the young person is physically safe and medical/nutritional goals are set. Our team paediatricians run medical clinics on three afternoons each week, and it is important not to miss appointments.

Some patients may benefit from psychiatric assessment and treatment through the psychiatrist. There is no magic pill to cure eating disorders, but it can be helpful to manage coinciding mental health issues.

Nutritional counselling is available through the team dietitians. This is a useful way to support medical and nutritional rehabilitation and to achieve regular, normal eating patterns. Parents are encouraged to attend these meetings with their child to provide optimal support.

Psychological support is important, and individual therapy sessions with a mental health clinician are recommended. If a young person is already engaged in individual therapy in the community, this will often be continued and it is not necessary to see a therapist at the program as well.

Family therapy should be part of treatment. It helps families manage their relationships which are often strained by the eating disorder, and provides a safe environment for all family members to communicate their concerns and receive support.

Physiotherapy sessions with the team physiotherapists are available to support young people with exercise issues, and to support physical recovery from malnutrition.

Body awareness therapy may be offered as an additional intervention. This type of therapy aims to assist in the development of self-awareness, self-nurturing and relaxation skills, and healthy forms of self-expression.

Admission to Hospital

Our treatment philosophy is to keep people in their home environment for as long as possible. Admissions to hospital only occur when the individual's weight or symptoms are severe enough to cause serious medical concern. The aim of the admission is to stabilise the medical and physical symptoms and maintain a safer weight.

Admission lengths vary, but the average is three weeks. After three or more admissions, every third admission may include an additional three-week period of weight maintenance.

During a hospital admission, patients attend the inpatient group program which provides a therapeutic group structure and supported eating. The group program is run Monday through to Friday from 8am breakfast to 4pm afternoon tea.

If a young person is admitted to hospital, the hospital school service will contact the individual's school to obtain appropriate academic work and support the young person with study.

Day Program

Our day program is available for patients of the Eating Disorders Program who might need extra support around eating or and are not coping socially at school. Whether a patient may be suitable to attend is determined in an interview which can be scheduled through the care coordinator.

The day program runs Monday-Friday 8.30-16.00 during the school term and provides a structure of schooling, therapy groups and supported eating. Schooling is an important part of the program and each patient receives support with their individual work supplied by their own school through hospital school services.

Parent and Family Support Program

Once a family has accepted treatment, the parents or primary carers will be invited to attend an orientation session which provides information on eating disorders and treatment. These sessions are offered monthly, and it is expected that parents make time to attend as they are part of treatment .

Further education and skill building workshops are designed to equip parents with the knowledge and skills to support their child. Our two day ED Essentials and Know’n Grow workshops are run alternating monthly and are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the illness and how to manage it. Parents are essential in helping their child recover.

A monthly group program for family members is available with groups alternating between grandparents, siblings, mums and dads groups as each family member may have different needs for support.

The group support program is a great way to connect with other people going through similar struggles.

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