Hope for eat­ing dis­or­der pa­tients

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

Help could be on the way for Auck­lan­ders with eat­ing dis­or­ders.

There are no in­pa­tient fa­cil­i­ties within the Auck­land re­gion, un­like Welling­ton and Can­ter­bury which have small units that can house pa­tients for long-term treat­ment.

But that may change, with a pro­posal for a re­gional ser­vice pro­vided by the Auck­land District Health Board, with fund­ing from Waitem­ata and Coun­ties-Manukau be­ing con­sid­ered by the Health Min­istry.

In the mean­time, some pa­tients are sent to Syd­ney for 24-hour care over sev­eral months, at a cost of about $67,000.

Eat­ing Dis­or­der As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand spokesman Peter Jef­fries says while the treat­ment in Syd­ney is “fan­tas­tic” it’s not an ideal sit­u­a­tion for fam­i­lies.

“It splits the fam­ily up. Some­body has to go over and sup­port them,” he says.

ADHB eat­ing dis­or­der ser­vices man­ager Adele Wake­ham says few pa­tients are sent to Syd­ney be­cause it doesn’t suit all fam­i­lies.

Mr Jef­fries, who has a fam­ily mem­ber with an eat­ing dis­or­der, says day-stay treat­ment at the Green­lane Clin­i­cal Cen­tre is ef­fec­tive.

But he thinks it’s unac- cept­able that some pa­tients have to wait sev­eral months to be seen.

“Ev­ery week that passes that they’re not get­ting the ser­vice, they go down­hill.”

Ms Wake­ham says there are two cat­e­gories of treat­ment at the clinic, which treated 244 peo­ple dur­ing the 2007/8 fi­nan­cial year.

One pro­gramme cares for pa­tients with milder eat­ing dis­or­ders and has no wait­ing list.

Many of th­ese cases in­volve bu­limia, which is of­ten treated with group ther­apy.

The more in­ten­sive pro­gramme mainly treats anorexic teenagers and there is a longer wait.

“Wait­ing lists de­pend on case loads. Manag­ing very in­ten­sive cases takes up re­sources,” Ms Wake­ham says.

She would like to see a fully re­sourced day pro­gramme and sep­a­rate res­i­den­tial care for ado­les­cents and adults.

Cur­rently she has 18.8 full­time equiv­a­lent staff.

The men­tal health blue­print re­leased by the Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion in 1998 said 34 full­time staff would be ideal.

But be­cause fund­ing in­cludes money from the Waitem­ata and Coun­ties Manukau health boards it is more com­plex.

“It’s al­ways more dif­fi­cult when try­ing to get con­sen­sus from sev­eral or­gan­isa- tions rather than one,” Ms Wake­ham says.

Pa­tients with se­vere eat­ing dis­or­ders can face a range of treat­ments in­clud­ing ther­apy, meal su­per­vi­sion and ses­sions with a nu­tri­tion­ist.

ADHB chair­man Pat Sned­den told the eat­ing dis­or­der as­so­ci­a­tion at the board’s June meet­ing that they are com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing ser­vices but other boards need to con­trib­ute.

Waitem­ata health board com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Bry­ony Hil­less says im­prov­ing eat­ing dis­or­ders ser­vices could in­clude an in­pa­tient fa­cil­ity.

Coun­ties Manukau board act­ing chief fund­ing and plan­ning of­fi­cer Sam Cliffe says they are keen to see in­pa­tient ser­vices for young peo­ple in­tro­duced.

The New Zealand Men­tal Health Sur­vey pub­lished in 2006 shows 1.7 per­cent of peo­ple 16 years and over will suf­fer from anorexia or bu­limia at some point.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Not enough: Eat­ing Dis­or­der As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand spokesman Peter Jef­fries wants lo­cal district health boards to in­crease ser­vices and open an in­pa­tient cen­tre to help fight the dis­ease.

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