Eating Disorders Service

Who we are

The Eating Disorders Service at Perth Children’s Hospital offers a range of supportive treatment options for children and young people who are experiencing difficulties in managing their health, in relation to eating and exercise.

It is a multi-disciplinary team who provide outpatient care, day treatment, inpatient care and support groups. The program supports children and young people and their families through assessment, recovery and discharge from the service, as well as training and education for health professionals and the community.

Conditions we manage

Eating disorders are a serious and potentially life-threatening mental illness that also affected physical health and requires treatment.

We manage all types of eating disorders, from any age groups up to the age of 18 years (as long as the patient has been referred at 16 years old), although they are most common during teen and young adult age groups.

There are several types of eating disorders, including:

  • anorexia nervosa: where someone is trying to lose weight more than what is healthy by placing severe restrictions on the amount and type of food and drinks they consume. There is an intense fear of gaining weight and often behaviour to avoid weight gain such as excessive exercise.
  • bulimia nervosa: where someone eats large volumes of food and then tries to get rid of the food (for example, by vomiting, excessive exercise or taking laxatives).
  • binge eating disorder: where someone eats large volumes of food with a sense of loss of control while eating, followed by feelings of guilt.
  • avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): when someone only eats a small range or amount of food and doesn’t get the nutrients they need. Generally, people with ARFID are not scared of weight gain, but often resist the need to eat because of the issues they have with eating.

Services we provide

Young people are referred to the Eating Disorders Service by their doctor, psychologist or school nurse or counsellor.

Assessment

Once referred, the young person will receive an assessment from our multidisciplinary team, made up of:

  • Family Based Treatment Therapist / Care Coordinator
  • Psychiatrist
  • Paediatric medical team
  • Dietician
  • Physiotherapist
  • Your doctor (General Practitioner)

The assessment will discuss the specific strengths and difficulties that the child or young person and their family are experiencing and will involve several members of the Eating Disorders team.

The assessment will help our team understand if your child has an eating disorder that meets the criteria for treatment with our program and what support your child or young person and your family will need moving forward.

Outpatient care

The most likely treatment recommended for you and your young person during outpatient care is Family Based Treatment (FBT), also often called ‘Maudsley method’. It places parents or carers at the centre of a child or young person’s recovery. This is usually a 12-month intensive program that provides support to help restore a child or young person’s physical health and help them return to their normal activities. Some families need additional therapies or another form of treatment towards the end of FBT.

Inpatient care

Most children and young people with eating disorders will be managed through outpatient care, but sometimes they need to be admitted to hospital to be assessed if they are medically unstable, at high risk of refeeding syndrome or experience ongoing weight loss despite outpatient support.

Transition program

The focus of this program is to prepare the child or young person during the challenging time that transition from hospital and the Eating Disorders Program to home. It is delivered on Ward 4A at PCH, running weekdays.

Participation in the program can happen once the care team and family agree that the individual is ready from a medical point of view, and that the young person and their parents are likely to benefit from involvement in the program.

Transition to young person and adult services

At PCH, Ward 4A provides care to children and young people up to the age of 18 years, if they have been a patient of the service from under 16 years old.

For young people who are 16 years old and over that need mental health care in hospital, an Eating Disorders care coordinator can help finding the best inpatient setting to meet mental health care needs.

Support and education groups

There are several support groups run by the Eating Disorders Program:

  • Parents and Carers Support Group
  • Mothers Support Group
  • Fathers Group

There is also a two-day education workshop:

Eating Disorders Essentials

These are open to the parents, carers and families of the children and young people in the Eating Disorders Program.

Getting help

If your child or young person is aged 15 years or under and they are experiencing severe dizziness or fainting, it may be a sign that they need urgent medical attention. Please bring them to the PCH Emergency Department or any other Emergency Department.

For urgent mental health help or advice for children and young people, call CAMHS Crisis Connect on 1800 048 636, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you are concerned and need advice about your child or young person, you can contact:

Referrals

We accept referrals for young people up to 16 years of age. Provision of care is up to 18 years of age, but the young person must have been referred by 16 years.

A written referral from a GP, psychologist or school counsellor or nurse is required for a full assessment and to access treatment through the Eating Disorders Service.

All Specialist Rooms, GP’s and WACHS referrers are being advised to direct all non-urgent referrals for PCH outpatient services to the Central Referral Service

When a referral has been received, the Intake Coordinator will contact you (the family) to discuss your concerns and ask some preliminary assessment questions.

The Intake Coordinator may then arrange an appointment for an assessment or recommend community-based organisations you can contact for information and support.

We can organise consultations via videoconference for families from rural or remote areas. Visit the WA Country Health Service website to find out if you are eligible for travel support via the Patient Accommodation and Transport Scheme (PATS).

For parents and families

Emergencies

Severe dizziness and fainting can be signs that a young person with an eating disorder needs immediate medical help and should attend PCH’s Emergency Department.

If you need help or advice, please call CAMHS Crisis Connect on 1800 636 048, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Location

Outpatient

Clinic K, Level 2 - take the Yellow or Pink lifts

Inpatient

Ward 4A, Level 4 - take the Green lifts
Ward 5A, Level 5 - take the Green lifts

View the PCH map for more information.

Contact us

Phone

6456 0201

Email

CAMHS.PCHOutpatientsEDP@health.wa.gov.au

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