A new unit in Exeter is making encouraging early progress in the provision of inpatient care and treatment for people with complex eating disorders.
Based at Wonford House Hospital, the 12-bed Haldon Unit is a joint initiative between the mental health providers in Cornwall, Devon and Plymouth and is the first of its kind in the peninsula to offer a specialist inpatient service for eating disorders. The creation of the unit followed a highly successful 18-month pilot project in North Devon and the first patients were admitted last September.
Commenting on the first 18 weeks of the Haldon Unit, Marian Titley, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, said: “So far we have had 15 admissions to the unit from Devon, Cornwall and Plymouth and these have all been people with a primary diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or other complex eating disorder. Whilst we are particularly pleased that the unit is being well-used by local people, it is important that we continue to attract people from outside the area an additional source of funding for the unit.
“Some of the early feedback from service users and their families has been very positive. It is very rewarding for the whole team that the hard work we have put into creating a homely, relaxing and reassuring environment is appreciated. We have also made a good start in terms of clinical outcomes and are on target to meet the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) targets for weight gain.
“In extreme cases, eating disorders can pose a significant threat to life and, sadly, there will always be those people who are so unwell and medically unstable that they require hospitalisation. We are, however, fortunate at the Haldon Unit to be next door to the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and we are working closely with our medical colleagues towards ensuring smooth transitions for patients moving between the two hospitals.
“We are all very excited about the future. The Haldon Unit represents a major step forward within the peninsula and our aim is to develop one of the country’s leading centres for eating disorders. We hope to provide care and treatment for as many as 40 people every year, many of whom would previously have been referred to specialist services outside the area - which is both costly for the NHS and inconvenient for local service users and their loved ones.”
A wide range of treatments and therapies are available to care for men and women, over the age of 16, with eating disorders of varying degrees of severity. There are two high dependency beds, suitable for those with very low weight who may require bed rest or other high intensity care. Eight beds are available for the people on the main programme and there is also a self-contained, two-bed rehabilitation flat which offers people greater independence whilst still receiving support from the unit if they need it.
Treatment and care is focused on each person’s needs to help them overcome the restrictions imposed upon them by their eating disorder. The multi-disciplinary approach includes psychiatry, psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, dietetics and family and creative therapies.
Help and advice are available from the Eating Disorders Association. Adult Helpline (over 18): 08456 34141 Youth Helpline: 08456 347650
Click here for more information about the Haldon Unit