Interdisciplinary project in Victoria supports clients living with eating disorders

14 May 2020  Network Story

Morwell Adult Mental Health Network in Victoria recently brought together three partners working for and with clients living with eating disorders to host their first online network meeting.

On 29 April, the network based in the Gippsland region of south east Victoria, presented ‘Eating Disorders 101’ to nearly 20 participants.

Guest speakers from Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV) highlighted a major collaborative project which is funded by the Gippsland PHN; and co-managed by EDV and The Butterfly Foundation.

EDV has partnered with The Butterfly Foundation to deliver eating disorders education, training and support in Gippsland over 2020-2021.

Throughout the 18-month project, EDV will provide face-to-face, online and telephone support and education.

Morwell Adult Mental Health Network co-coordinator and inpatient mental health clinician, Ms Bosede Adetifa, says this inter-agency partnership has five key benefits:

  • ‘sharing of resources, such as screening tools for the prevention and early treatment of eating disorders
  • contribution of expertise knowledge on specific symptoms and management strategies
  • opportunity to work closely with family and provide needed support within Gippsland and beyond
  • opportunity to add to the body of knowledge through research, data gathering and analysis for quality improvement
  • collaborative approach to care is a great benefit to lasting solutions’.

How the interdisciplinary approach works
EDV education manager, Ms Rebecca Lister, and education research fellow Dr Lauren Bruce spoke to meeting participants about the fundamentals of eating disorders; and the project collaboration.

Ms Lister believes an interdisciplinary team is vital for working with clients experiencing an eating disorder.

‘A team of professionals can address the physical, psychological, behavioural, social and cultural dimensions of the disorder. The structure and approach of this team will change depending on the age and diagnosis of the individual’.

Ms Adetifa also says interdisciplinary collaboration is very important for working effectively with people living with eating disorders.

‘Eating disorders are multifaceted; the brain and the whole body are significantly impacted. An individual’s thoughts impact feelings and the behaviours people see. So, to effectively manage symptoms you need various professionals coming together as a team. This will include mental health practitioners, psychologist, medical doctors, nurses, eating disorder specialist (including psychiatrist and other behaviour therapist) that re-orientate people to new behaviours using set learning skills. The need for an integrated service cannot be underestimated in relapse prevention’.

Meeting online means business-as-usual
Morwell Adult Mental Health Network co-coordinator and community health project officer, Ms Kirstey McKinnon, was a bit reluctant to hold an online meeting at first but ‘I soon found the others involved in organising the meeting were confident hosting the meeting on Zoom and I became comfortable with the process’.

‘Once we were all online that evening, I thought the experience was great and ran smoothly’, she says.

Ms McKinnon encourages other network coordinators to present meetings online and has a couple of tips to offer.

‘Play around with the online platform and familiarise yourself with it before the meeting. Also ensuring all the small details such as the links were organised early on made me feel more prepared’.

She says it also helped to have support from a MHPN project officer throughout the process.

‘Ashleigh (from MPHN) was fantastic. She was prompt on all queries and actions and gave me confidence she was over the process’.