‘First of its kind’ eating disorder support for young people opens in Hampshire.

23 November 2023

A revolutionary way to help young people with eating disorders has now opened in Hampshire, following confirmation of £1.6million of additional funding for the county.

A new Eating Disorder Day Programme, based at Leigh House in Winchester, open its doors to offer a nine-week programme to young people support and exclusively focus on treating eating disorders.  It is the first of its kind in the county to be run jointly by family therapy and nursing, based on the successful service developed by the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (and only one of five in the South East).  The programme is designed to treat young people in the day setting enabling them to stay at home with their families rather than be admitted as an inpatient as well as empower parents to support them by offering multi-family therapy alongside a group work programme for the young people. 

The service is open to young people aged 13-18 who are already known to specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and is commissioned by the NHS Wessex and Dorset CAMHS Provider Collaborative, with funding from NHS England. The programme will be named by the first cohort of young people and their families as part of continued engagement with those who use the service.

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Sarah Cole, Eating Disorder Day Programme Clinical Lead said: "We are so pleased to be able to offer this level of support to young people with an eating disorder. We have a wide range of specialist support available to the young people and their families ranging from dieticians, nurses, therapists, psychologists, teachers (to enable the young people to continue with their studies during the programme) family therapists, occupational therapists and creative therapy sessions giving them a way to express themselves through drama, story-making, music and art.”

 “At the end of each day the young person will be able to go home and spend time with their families. The programme is there not only to support the young person, but also give their family and carers coping skills as part of their ongoing support with their recovery recognising the importance of their role in continued recovery.”

Alan, a parent who has used Leigh House eating disorder services, said:

"At one of the most difficult times of our family's lives we found ourselves relying on the eating disorder services of Leigh House. I'm not sure how we all would have got through without the intensive support our young person needed to find a path to recovery. These were tough times on us all. The staff were brilliant and involved us all in decisions about care, support, and treatment. We found multifamily therapy useful as it connected us with other parents who shared our experiences. We really appreciated hearing stories of hope from parents and young people who had found a journey into recovery."

Richard Sankar, Consultant in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Wessex and Dorset Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Provider Collaborative, said “There has been an increase in the need for treatment of eating disorders in young people. The day service will serve to meet this for local young people and families. It has been designed by listening to what young people and families want. The service will offer evidenced care in the least restrictive way, whilst optimising a young person's independence. This approach has been found to have the best prognosis for young people with eating disorders. We are excited about having another treatment option in Hampshire for young people and families.”   

This programme will be delivered six times a year for up to 10 young people at a time (supporting an additional 60 young people every year).

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