Concern among family members as eating disorder support services are cut off

Tia has a laptop set up in front of her as she sits in the kitchen

To assist those with eating disorders, a one-to-one video call service that had been implemented during lockdown has been discontinued. A 19-year-old said she is now concerned about the future, while one person claimed the service saved her partner's life.

The trust that provided the funding through the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) claimed that it was only ever intended to be a temporary solution and that they are bringing in new services that will improve care.

Tia has a laptop set up in front of her as she sits in the kitchen. .

Her nurse is counting her down from five to one while they are on a daily call.

Tia opens the lid of a rice pudding at one.

Tia, a 19-year-old from Yate, is comforted by the nurse, who also urges her to eat.

These calls have been coming to Tia for about a year, but the Eating Disorder Home Care (EDHC) service will end at the end of March.

There is an image in this article that some readers may find upsetting.

Tia before she became ill
Tia claimed that when she was younger, she was bullied.

Tia was a student and a rugby player three years ago, but she claimed she was bullied for being "bigger" and struggled with her body image.

She made the decision that she wanted to emerge from lockdown in March 2020 "brand new.".

People complimented her on her new appearance after she shed a lot of weight, but she later claimed that things "spiraled out of control" after a while.

Both Tia's body and brain were severely malnourished. She couldn't get a good night's sleep, lost her hair frequently, and was always cold.

She claimed that she lost half her body weight in 18 months.

Tia was hospitalized and discharged "so many times I lost count," and her heart's size had significantly decreased.

Tia in hospital
Tia reduced her body weight by 50%.

Tia was dependent on medical equipment for days. We were told she was going to die, so those were really dark days, mum Jo recalled.

Tia was sent home under their care after Jo learned about the EDHC service and expressed a desire to use it.

"I am incredibly grateful that they went to my mother and asked her because I know I might not have pursued the matter. My entire life has changed," Tia declared.

"They have helped me get through so many trying times. and have been present at every stage. ".

Up to six video calls a day would take place, during which a specialist would instruct patients on how to eat meals and snacks.

Tia claimed that she simply would not eat without them.

"I just can't handle it alone. I really struggle, and my therapist and I are still working on that," she admitted.

Jo (left) and Tia (right)
There "is no plan in place," according to Tia's mother Jo, for when the service will end.

The service, according to Tia's family, has kept her out of the hospital; Manchester is the location of the closest inpatient facility. It also enables her to receive support while she is on vacation and at work.

I honestly don't know what we would have done without them, Jo continued.

"The chance for her to be able to remain at home, allowing us to remain a family. was really everything.

There were so many days when we would have ended up in A&E from frustration.

"We couldn't accomplish it alone. Our lives have been restored by it. ".

Jo admitted that she is concerned about what the future might hold as EDHC comes to an end. .

There doesn't seem to be a plan in place, and that worries me a lot, she said.

"Even though it's only next month, we haven't spoken at all. ".

Tia claimed that since getting assistance from EDHC, she has been getting better.

The program began in the winter of 2021 and received 43 referrals, though only about half continued with it. .

About nine people are currently utilizing the service before it is shut down in March.

According to AWP, the temporary service was brought into Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) at a specific time to address a number of issues, including a staffing shortage, a lack of inpatient beds, and the inability to visit patients personally due to lockdown.

It continued by saying that while it was happy that some people had found the calls to be helpful, it also ran the risk of encouraging dependency rather than addressing the underlying causes of the eating disorder.

In order to provide better, evidence-based support, AWP claimed it has now increased the size of its eating disorder team from 10 to 40 employees and reduced its waiting list from 400 people in July of last year to just over 100.

Tia in hospital
Tia was frequently admitted to the hospital.

Tia acknowledged that she is anxious for anyone else who has recently received a diagnosis, but she is now on the road to recovery.

"My recovery has been greatly aided by EDHC. They are the ones I most trust because they have faith in me, she said.

"I'm not going to have them there when things do get difficult. I don't think it has really sunk in yet, but it's just a little intimidating.

"I'm also disappointed that some people won't have the same opportunity as me to heal in their secure environment, at home.

"It's disturbing that so many more children and adults who can't do it themselves will have to in the future.". ".

Sally Monkhouse
Sally Monkhouse wants AWP to reconsider it before scrapping the "wonderful" work EDHC has done in an effort to bring attention to it.

The service's termination has left Sally Monkhouse, 74, "devastated," she said.

Her partner has been receiving support from the EDHC for more than 60 years while battling anorexia.

She claimed that losing the service would have a significant effect on both her and her partner.

According to Ms. Monkhouse, a resident of Chew Valley, "My partner has given me permission to say they wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for this wonderful, wonderful service.".

"What is so unique about it is that people can continue living their lives while they are being healed; they can continue their education; parents can continue raising their children safely; and people can make a living while they are doing it," the author says.

"I think this is a really missed opportunity and I really hope that they look at it again. I think it is a transferable model, it could go into all sorts of mental health areas. ".

According to AWP, EDHC was hired as broader enhancements to the eating disorders services, including a new early intervention program, were being developed.

All urgent patients are now seen within two weeks, and everyone who has been referred is evaluated within four.

According to the organization, this has made it possible for it to offer individuals more individualized support, greatly reducing the need for EDHC.

"We really don't want people to be on intensive meal support for any length of time," the spokesperson continued.

"It was only intended to be a brief intervention, but what will be in place is actually a much richer program that is addressing the underlying factors, which is what meal support in and of itself can not do. ".

Psychological counseling, occupational therapy, dietetic appointments, and a certain level of meal support are all forms of support provided to assist individuals in achieving independence and healing.

You can get support at if any of the things in this article have affected you or someone you know. Action Line at BBC.

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