Over the past eight years NIED has been committed to helping to disseminate quality information about Eating Disorders to caregivers, healthcare professionals and those with lived experience. NIED’s educational efforts began with symposia, which touched on everything from Eating Disorder signs, symptoms and treatment modalities, to putting a spotlight on Eating Disorders in underrepresented groups. Over the past few years, the symposia have also been broadcast online, reaching people affected by Eating Disorders all over the world. “We’ve heard so much amazing life changing impact from individuals about what it’s meant to them being able to participate in a number of these symposia either as participants, in terms of audience, but also in terms of co-presenters as well,” says NIED Chairman Mark Ferdinand. “We received feedback from people in the Middle East and Japan with regard to these symposia with people asking for support.”
Through the symposia and other outreach efforts, including a caregiver survey done in 2018, NIED has now consulted with over 10,000 people looking for help, support and guidance related to addressing Eating Disorders. Through this engagement NIED has learned that there are many ways that Canada can do better in supporting recovery within our healthcare system. With the groundwork created by our symposia, and a recent partnership with Body Brave, NIED has committed to creating several educational programs meant to help bolster the treatment of Eating Disorders across the country.
Through this engagement with so many people with Eating Disorders and their caregivers, NIED has found that negative interactions with healthcare professionals is a key barrier for many getting the help they need. NIED Communications is meant to not only teach primary care providers what to say when talking to someone with an Eating Disorder but also how to say it in a way that will support recovery. So many resources and standards explain ‘what to do’ to support better communication or collaboration in care, but few, if any, resources clearly explain ‘how to effectively implement these standards’ in different settings, with different people and in different situations. Learning how to apply various communication and collaboration skills during very different, individual recovery journeys takes patience, good training and adaptability.
Conversely, NIED Communications will also focus on helping those with Eating Disorders navigate the healthcare system while teaching them things like what to do when meeting a care provider for the first time and how to navigate transitioning between different levels of care. “We’re really focused this year on improving people’s ability to communicate in a much more empathic way with people seeking care, as well as with their caregivers and other professionals,” Ferdinand says.
Given that Eating Disorders are a mental illness that can also affect every organ of the body, it is very important that various healthcare specialities know how to work together. This also includes caregivers and people with Eating Disorders themselves, both of whom play an integral role in the recovery process. “Having an ability to collaborate effectively is associated with higher chances of recovery and improves well-being,” Ferdinand says. NIED Collaboration is focused on teaching key skills and approaches that help establish and maintain a productive therapeutic alliance between care providers, individuals and their caregivers.
When it comes to helping those with Eating Disorders, Canada’s healthcare system is disjointed at best. Many primary care providers face challenges in referring patients to specialists or further treatment, and even then, the wait times are often months long. This is why NIED Connections is focused on helping people learn how to navigate health and social services to get effective, evidence-based and evidence-informed care and support. This includes things like: what to do/how to cope when waiting for a specialist appointment or higher level of care and what to do when navigating health care, social services and community care and how to do it. “We know that not everyone’s recovery journey is the same and so people require different types of supports and different types of relationships, potentially across different providers,” Ferdinand says. “Helping people better connect with the right levels of care and support is extremely important to us.”
Inspired by feedback that NIED has received regarding experiences with care from people with Eating Disorders, caregivers, professionals and providers over the past 4 years, NIED is committed to preparing a set of guidelines meant to standardize the quality of care for people with Eating Disorders across the County. “NIED Quality is about improving programs and services for people affected by Eating Disorders so that’s more of a system level and possibly an organizational level type focus,” Ferdinand says. “We know it’s going to take that many more stakeholders and collaboration in order to establish what we think is needed in Canada, which is higher quality standards of care for people with Eating Disorders.” NIED will begin engaging with stakeholders in 2021 to create Quality Eating Disorders Care and Support Standards for Canada, which will then form the NIED Quality programming in late 2021.
NIED Communication, NIED Collaboration and NIED Connections will be disseminated in both informational materials and online courses aimed at healthcare professionals, caregivers and people with Eating Disorders. Download our new fact sheets based on these three initiatives here.