An external evaluation by UCD. Recently the HSE hosted an event to celebrate the progress of the PiLaR programme, supporting families affected by Eating Disorders. Based on the idea of Peer Led Resilience the PiLaR programme was developed by the Eating Disorder Association of Ireland, Bodywhys, in collaboration with HSE Clinical Programmes to support friends and families of a person with an eating disorder. The event also saw the launch of an independent evaluation of the PiLaR programme. The report was completed by a team in UCD who worked collaboratively with service users, clinicians, family members and friends. It confirms that the programme is a valued source of information and support to those supporting a person with an eating disorder.  It also highlights some of the key benefits of the programme which has been delivered across Ireland since it launched in 2014. To date over 613 family members and friends have attended the free, four-week programme gaining information, education, and support.

Minister for Mental Health and Older Persons, Jim Daly said, “We can see that there has been significant improvement made in the area of eating disorders and I’m delighted that we are making strong progress with the model of care launched last year. Eating disorders are often under recognised and early intervention is essential. But while supporting those with an eating disorder is vital we also know that supporting those in the background is extremely important. Programmes like this that include the support system can only further increase recovery.”

Dr Sara McDevitt, National Clinical Lead for Eating Disorders, HSE said, “We are committed to developing high quality eating disorder services for patients and their families.  We were delighted that UCD agreed to partner with us and Bodywhys on this evaluation, which highlights that caring for a loved one with an eating disorder impacts on family and friends’ mental health. There needs to be adequate support in place for everyone affected by eating disorders, and programmes like PiLaR meet that need.  This report also gives us some solid recommendations on how we can continue to develop PiLaR to fully exploit its potential within the role out of the Model of Care. I’m confident we will continue to support research and evaluation in this area to further improve how we meet service needs for the whole family.”

Jim Ryan – Assistant National Director for Mental Health Operations, HSE added, ‘Most people can and do recover from eating disorders if they get effective, evidence-based treatment from trained staff. That is one of the main aims of our National Clinical Programme. We are working to establish 16 teams across the country that will provide specialist eating disorder services. Clinical interventions are important but family support is vital to recovery. We are seeing more and more examples within mental health of ways families are included in treatment plans and the PiLaR programme is a great example of how this works well.  We’ve heard directly from families that they now have a better understanding of what their loved one is going through and ultimately they are more confident in how valuable their support is.’

Harriet Parsons Training and Development Manager Bodywhys, said ‘PiLaR provides a space for family members and supporters to come together to both learn about eating disorders and how to cope with someone trying to recover. It is important that clinical services and the support organisation Bodywhys, continue to work together in order to improve services and supports. This report evaluating the PiLaR programme, shows how important collaboration of this kind can be for improving services for people with eating disorders. We look forward to continuing this collaboration to deliver on the recommendations that the report has identified.’

Visit the HSE website to view or download a copy of the independent evaluation<https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/cspd/ncps/mental-health/eating-disorders/resources/> of the PiLaR Programme.

Pictured at the launch of an independent evaluation of the PiLaR programme, supporting families affected by Eating Disorders this week. (L-R) Dr Ingrid Holme, UCD,  Dr Sara McDevitt, National Clinical Lead for Eating Disorders, HSE Minister for Mental Health and Older Persons, Jim Daly, Harriet Parsons Training and Development Manager Bodywhys and Professor Fiona McNicholas, UCD.