New purpose-built eating disorders facility opens in Poole

23rd March 2023

New eating disorders facility 3.jpgA new state-of-the-art £8 million development to support local people with eating disorders is now open.

In common with the rest of the UK, Dorset’s All Age Eating Disorders Service continues to experience a year-on-year increase in demand, with an exceptional surge in demand experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while six patients could previously be cared for by the specialist inpatient team based at St Ann’s Hospital in Poole, the new two-storey building can accommodate ten – reducing the need for out-of-area admissions.

The new building will also house the four-place day programme, which offers an alternative to admission and supports transition from hospital back to the community. Ensuring people with eating disorders receive the treatment and support they need at the earliest possible stage is vital in helping them overcome their condition.

The referral rate to the service in 2021/22 increased by 53% compared to the previous year. Referrals have risen mostly among children and young people, with an increase of 76% over the past three years.

Eating Disorders Service Manager, Karen Law said:

“Increasing our capacity from six to ten beds will make a real difference. It means a person who requires admission can be admitted earlier and close to home.  This in turn makes it much easier for family and friends to stay in close contact and support the person through their admission and their transition home.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to provide this vital service in a new, modern, purpose-built space with first-class facilities. Everyone involved has worked very hard to create a therapeutic space. The colour scheme and furniture has been chosen by people who have had an admission or attended day programme together with the team.”

Representatives from the Trust were joined at the ribbon-cutting opening ceremony by staff, developers Kier Construction, Medical Architecture and Gleeds Management Services.

David McKenzie, managing director at Kier Construction London & Southern, said:

“We are extremely proud to have worked in partnership with Dorset Healthcare University NHS Trust to deliver this important new healthcare facility that will support people in Dorset and the south west.

“We have utilised our experience in healthcare to construct this unit, which has been carefully designed to support patients and includes inpatient beds, clinician rooms and communal spaces. Delivering projects with local supply chain partners is important to us, we have worked with a number of local firms and also provided job and training opportunities throughout the project’s lifecycle.”

New eating disorders facility.jpgEman Shweikh, the Trust’s Clinical Director for Mental Health, added:

“We are thrilled the new eating disorders unit is complete. Being able to increase capacity and reduce wait times will mean we can provide treatment for those in need much more quickly, greatly improving a person’s chances of making a full recovery.”

Eating disorders have been increasing over the past 50 years across the UK and worldwide. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advises that an eating disorder can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, cultural, religious or social background and at any age, although they most commonly start in young people aged 13 to 17 years.

Disturbed attitudes towards weight, body shape, and eating play a key role in the origin and maintenance of eating disorders. Eating disorders can considerably impair physical health and disrupt psychosocial functioning; they can be a severe mental illness and life threatening. However, people with an eating disorder can and do recover, recovery is different for each person and will often take time.

It is important that people experiencing an eating disorder and their family are aware of the support available and seek help as soon as possible.

Designed to help people, and their families/carers, overcome a range of eating disorders, the Dorset All Age Eating Disorders Service supports people of all ages. Referrals can be made by a GP, by health, social care and education professionals. Self-referral and parental referral are also accepted.

For more information about the Dorset All Age Eating Disorders Service and its support offer, visit our eating disorders page or call 0300 019 1771.

Nationally, eating disorders charity BEAT can be contacted via its helpline on 0808 8010677 or visit the Beat Eating Disorders website for more information, support and resources. 

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