WaterStone Foundation’s Fund Recipients

Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Substance Use Problems and Eating Disorders – University Health Network

Individuals with eating disorders frequently struggle with substance use problems, and the two issues can each complicate and worsen the other. Research suggests when these disorders occur together, recovery can be more difficult to achieve, and even risk of death can increase.

Research on how to best help individuals with these co-occurring issues is sparse, and currently there is no OHIP-covered integrated intensive treatment in Ontario for individuals who have eating disorders and substance use problems. The Eating Disorder Program at Toronto General Hospital is collaborating with the Women’s Addiction Program at Toronto Western Hospital to design and implement the first intervention of this nature with WaterStone Foundation funds. This intervention will focus on helping individuals to understand the relationship between their eating disorder and substance use problem, and to learn and practice specific skills to help achieve and maintain long-term recovery.

The Eating Disorder Program is part of the Centre for Mental Health at University Health Network, a group of University of Toronto-affiliated academic hospitals . The program has an international reputation as a center for excellence in treatment and research, and a long history of evaluating and revising treatment approaches in order to maximize and improve patient outcomes.

 “Individuals with eating disorders often also struggle with substance use problems, but can’t access help for both issues in the same treatment setting, leading to disjointed and poorly coordinated care,” said Dr. Patricia Colton, Medical Director and Co-Head, Eating Disorders Program, University Health Network. “With WaterStone’s generous support, the Eating Disorder Program at Toronto General Hospital will collaborate with their colleagues in the Women’s Addiction Program at Toronto Western Hospital to develop and deliver an innovative module of individual and group treatment for substance use integrated into intensive eating disorder treatment.”

Transitional Supportive Housing  – Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Middlesex, with London Health Science Centre Adult Eating Disorder Program

Discharge from a hospital or residential facility in Canada for someone with an eating disorder can be extremely difficult if there is no effective hometown follow-up. Patients are often discharged from such programs with no interim “safe zone” or home-like setting to help to reintegrate back into their community in a meaningful step-by-step fashion. Without a sustained support system in place, patients can quickly resort to unhealthy coping strategies.

With WaterStone support, The Eating Disorders Transitional Supportive Housing Program would provide a home in the community of London for individuals completing or who have completed treatment for an eating disorder and who are in need of further support to practice their skills learned in treatment in a normalized setting.  The program would provide evening support staff who would provide at a minimum; meal support as needed, support with grocery shopping and support with referrals to community agencies, schools and employment as needed. Relaxation, yoga and mindfulness groups will be some of the groups offered onsite. London Health Science Centre Adult Eating Disorder Program will work collaboratively with CMHA Middlesex to support the needs of mutual clients.

“With help from WaterStone Foundation, we are working to fill a gap in services as eating disorder patients move from their treatment programs to a healthy community setting,” said Chris Babcock, Director, Supportive Housing, CMHA Middlesex. “We believe a supportive environment in our homes will encourage recovery for individuals experiencing an eating disorders and enhance their quality of life, skills and sense of worth.”

Transition Program – The Eating Disorders Program at The Hospital for Sick Children

 Approximately half of adolescents with eating disorders recover while 50% continue to be affected by either subclinical eating disorders or a chronic illness course. Consequently, the majority of adolescents with eating disorders will require transition of care from pediatric to adult care services for management of their chronic illness.  Unfortunately, those who do not make the transition to adult services successfully face increased morbidity and mortality. 

Currently, there is no standard procedure, protocol or pathway for transitioning adolescents to adult eating disorder services or research evaluating interventions to facilitate the transition.

To help youth and their families navigate the process,  the Eating Disorders Program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) will be using a grant from the WaterStone Foundation to help develop a transition program for young adult eating disorder patients and their families in order to maximize the likelihood they receive timely and appropriate care after leaving the pediatric system with the goal of maximizing health outcomes for young adults with eating disorders.

The Eating Disorders Program at SickKids diagnoses and treats children and adolescents with eating disorders in inpatient, outpatient and day hospital settings. It is the primary treatment site for the central Toronto area and is a specialty centre for the province of Ontario.  SickKids assesses up to 150 new patients each year and have over 80 active patients in its program at any given time.

“Transition from pediatric to adult care is a challenging process for those suffering from eating disorders for a variety of reasons, including differences in treatment approaches, developmental issues and waitlists that decrease the chance of successful transition and positive health outcomes,” said Dr. Cathleen Steinegger, Head, Eating Disorders Program, The Hospital for Sick Children.

Multi Family Group Therapy Program for Children and Adolescents with Eating Disorders - Southlake Regional Health Centre

Southlake Regional Health Centre has been appointed by the Ministry of Health as a leader in supporting the development of programing for children and adolescents with Eating Disorders.  It has been providing services to children and families in York Region and Simcoe County for 17 years. Recent research shows that parents are crucial to their children’s success.  Children have the best recovery outcomes when their families play a central role in their care.

Southlake Regional Health Centre’s program offers three levels of care for families: outpatient treatment, day treatment and inpatient treatment. As part of its outpatient program, it has successfully run several Multi Family Group Therapy programs over the last 10 years. Up to eight families with children or adolescents at different stages of recovery from an eating disorder are treated, requiring a one-year commitment on an outpatient basis from families. These groups have reduced the Centre’s wait list and have insured quick and efficient delivery of treatment.  With WaterStone funds, the Centre will be in a position to double the capacity of the Multi Family Group Therapy program by introducing another cycle of treatment.

“Southlake’s philosophy is that parents are crucial to their child’s recovery,” said Dr. Ahmed Boachie, Clinical Director, Eating Disorder Programs, Southlake Regional Health Centre. “Offering this specialized programming provides much needed family based eating disorders therapy to children, adolescents and their families in a time sensitive manner, promoting a return to health as quickly as possible. We thank WaterStone Foundation for its support.”

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