Thursday, 7 January 2021

New Eating Disorders' Services for Powys

A Happy New Year to all our readers! 

Just over a year ago one of our Powys citizen reps, Helen Missen, (pictured above) a passionate advocate for improved Eating Disorders' services, wrote about the Eating Disorders’ Service review in Wales which had just taken place.

Roll on twelve months, and so much has developed in Powys as a result of this review (you can read the Executive Summary). At our mental health partnership board meeting just before Christmas we were very pleased to find out more about the new services from our colleagues at Powys Teaching Health Board along with Dr Jacinta Tan (Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at Aneurin Bevan Health Board) who led the Review Team, Menna Jones (newly appointed National Clinical Lead for Eating Disorders) and Helen.

The underlying principles which people wanted
  • Early detection and intervention. Helping people, like teachers and parents, to identify people who might have an eating disorder to have access to support and help.
  • Inclusivity. Never turn people away. Anyone in distress who thinks they are, or a loved one who might have an eating disorder, deserves a response.
  • To be person-centred. To have prompt expert help for those who might have eating disorders. Giving people what they need and trying as far as possible to deliver it to them where they are. To provide person-centred and holistic care for the person and the whole family.
  • Relationship based.
  • Recovery focussed
  • Trauma informed.
In total there were 22 recommendations made by Jacinta which the government took on board. 

Where we go from here

Eating Disorders’ services were highlighted, as one of five key areas, for additional funding from the Welsh Government’s Mental Health Improvement Fund. There was a specific focus on Early Intervention as an area which the government wanted to prioritise. The first funding stream came through in Summer 2019 and coincided with a large consultation with clinicians across Wales looking at the response to the recommendations as well as some of the barriers that might come up.

In January 2019 it was announced that there would be a dedicated post created to take some of this work forward – a National Eating Disorders’ Lead in NHS Wales. Menna Jones officially started in this full-time role, the first of its kind for Eating Disorders, on 1 January this year, with the placement due to continue until March 2022. Menna’s role will be to work with clinicians, and those using services, to set up an Implementation Plan which sets long-term goals for improving services based on the Review’s recommendations and also facilitating changes to happen.

Some of the key areas include: early intervention, moving to increased delivery of eating disorder services by specialist teams, creation of physical health clinics within Community Mental Health teams, and to join up Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and adult services – looking at transitions but also at what can be learned from each of these services around models used and approaches to work.

The vision of the service review

Jacinta emphasized that the plan will focus on equity of access to specialist and high quality care across Wales, including in rurally isolated areas of large parts of Mid Wales such as Powys. There will also be joined-up working with other teams – patients are complex, they have many needs, they have comorbidities (the presence of one or more conditions at once) and it is important to interface with other services such as Autism services. In promoting specialism Eating Disorders Services will not be pulling away from the rest of the system.

The lived experience view from Helen

"From all mental health conditions eating disorders still have the highest mortality rate of any and that needs to be at the forefront of people’s thinking. I started advocating for families because I just didn’t want them to go through what we went through 11 years ago. I now sit on the Executive Committee for the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Eating Disorders faculty and the European Board for the Academy of Eating Disorders. I really believe in change. I believe we can get it right in Powys. And I know (from my daughter’s experience) that recovery is possible." 

Plans for Powys 

Sam Shore – Head of CAMHS

Currently CAMHS has an eating disorder element to the service already, including specialist practitioner support and our own CAMHS dietician as well as support from psychology. Each CMHT does have a link eating disorder worker who will give advice to anyone open to adult mental health services and support any new referrals into the service.

Practitioners link with GPs for support in the first instance if someone’s physical health is deteriorating.

Following receipt of additional funds, however, we now are going to develop a specialist Eating Disorder Service, which is going to be an age-less service. We want to address issues such as transition and early intervention. We will be working more closely with GPs in Powys, and looking at our referrals into the service.

Following receipt of funding the following new posts have been created and we will be recruiting very soon:
  • Team leader.
  • Specialist practitioner.
  • Dietician.
  • Occupational therapist technician.

We’ve been working closely with Helen too and listened particularly to her tips and hints on moving forward. So we have an idea of what the new service will look like in terms of family intervention and family work. Menna has also offered to support us in the development of the service.

Whilst normally we would have 4 – 5 on our caseload we are actually working with 20 children and young people at the moment (mid December 2020). Covid has had a massive impact on the referrals and they are very complex – there are significant physical health issues, family dynamic issues and cases of anxiety as well as eating disorders.

Joy Garfitt – Assistant Director Mental Health & Learning Disabilities' Services

The model we’re going for is a small dedicated team of specialists who can link to the national Eating Disorder team. Within our five CMHTs and our CAMHS teams we have a small nucleus of specialism, whilst others practice as general mental health practitioners, so we’re creating a staff team which has a general mental health practice element to their role and a special interest element to their role. The special interest might be eating disorders, or perinatal, or trauma-informed services. This means that community psychiatric nurses, and social workers in the field, can also access that specialist support locally in Powys. We can’t provide an eating disorder service in every CMHT as might happen in a big city, so that’s why we’re looking at a different model. 

All in all it was great to hear the enthusiasm and commitment to reshaping Eating Disorder Services, not just in Powys, but across Wales, and we look forward to receiving further updates as the new team settles in and starts work.

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