An eating disorder has a profound effect not only on the person who is unwell, but also on those who care for them. Up to 40% of carers experience anxiety and/or depression at a clinical level. Family/carers are in a unique position to support their loved one to tackle the eating disorder, but can often feel excluded from services. This can lead to feelings of frustration, guilt and disempowerment. Carers frequently ask Beat (the national eating disorders charity) and health professionals for specific, clear guidance on how best to help their loved one.
As part of Beat’s ongoing commitment to improve services, they have launched Empowering Families; a course of seven to eight skills training workshops which equip carers with the latest insight and tools detailed in ‘The New Maudsley Method’ (see ‘Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved-one with an Eating Disorder’, Treasure, Smith and Crane, 2007) pioneered by the Maudsley hospital in London, a leading inpatient and research unit.
The New Maudsley Method has been developed to support carers to increase their understanding about the illness and offers professional techniques for dealing with the difficulties created by the eating disorder, including
•Dealing with challenging behaviour
•Specialised communication skills
•Avoiding traps that may maintain the disorder
The Empowering Families workshops support a collaborative care ethos in which professionals, carers and sufferers work together towards recovery, empowering carers to become expert change coaches, using professional skills and information to support their loved one to break free from traps that prevent recovery, while looking after their own needs.
We are in Leeds and as volunteers we have piloted these workshops. We now need the NHS to commission Empowering Families workshops all around the country.