In January of last year, The UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders launched a monthly program to bring together parents, siblings, spouses and patients in our inpatient and partial hospitalization programs. Each month above the hospital Starbucks, families attend an hour-long group session led by our treatment team. After the session, patients are served a buffet-style dinner together with their family while receiving meal support from the clinical team including therapists, social workers and dieticians. During this real-world buffet meal, we help families work together as a team and expand caregivers’ skills to foster recovery in their loved one.
A year later, we are happy to report that the program has been a great success! Around 45 to 65 participants attend the Multi-Family Meal Program each month—a fabulous turnout that has absolutely surpassed our expectations. Families say that they really appreciate the opportunity to connect with other families who are also struggling with these bewildering disorders. It’s a relief to know that they’re not alone and there are other families who understand. They also appreciate having new skills in their toolbox to provide increased support and encouragement so that they feel prepared for tough mealtimes. Our team also is grateful to have the opportunity to provide additional psycho-education and support to families and the opportunity to practice supporting their loved one during a challenging meal.
The UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders is so thankful for the generous support from the UNC Health Care Volunteer Association. With their funding, we are able to provide these monthly meals at no-cost to patients and their families. We know that attending hospital-based eating disorder treatment can result in stress or financial burdens for families, and are so happy we can cover the cost of this critical meal support program.
By: Kate Cardoza and Rachel Finholt
Photo by: Dinner Series