"Denbridge House closure"
About: South London And Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust / Eating disorders South London And Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Eating disorders SE5 8AZ
Posted by Karen P (as ),
Denbridge House is a residential home that helps people with long standing eating disorders learn how to live again outside of hospital. Most patients there would have already had many in-patient admissions, but were unable to continue with their recovery when sent back home direct from the ward, and so Denbridge helps to break this cycle. I have recently found out that this service is now due to be closed in March 2011, which I feel is completely the wrong decision and may cost lives.
I was a resident at Denbridge House for 3 years, and feel that without this placement, I would not be here today. I had suffered from Anorexia since 9 years old, and had spent many years in hospital, caught in the cycle I explained above, institutionalised and unable to see any way out. Denbridge offered me a chance to actually take some control and responsibility back, in a safe environment, and learn the coping skills to deal with my illness and live back in the 'real' world.
This is not a cure by any means, and many people, myself included, may always have issues with food. Eating disorders are complex issues and do not disappear overnight, but the daily support from staff, the groups, therapy and relationships with other patients, helped to plant the seeds for my recovery, and I still draw on those experiences now when things seem difficult to cope with.
Denbridge is a unique project in that the helps start when you leave hospital, which I believe is the most fragile time for any patient. To go back home to the place where the eating disorder was most prevalent, could have sent me straight back down the road to relapse, it is too familiar, too easy to slip into old routines.
Instead, this place offered me a chance to start again, to learn about myself outside of just being 'Anorexic', to reconnect to things I enjoy doing, to test out new ideas, safe in the knowledge that I would be supported and encouraged. To deal with the emotions that are behind the illness, and separate food from feelings, which takes time, and can not be achieved just by a short hopsital stay.
I feel that to take this away will lead to lives being lost. I don’t feel that the alternative arrangements being set up, which I think consist of day care treatments, and bed and breakfast accomodation, are an equal alternative and I think this needs to clarified. Many patients with eating disorders often have adjoining issues of Obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. Had I been placed in a B&B, my fears over germs and contamination would have thrown me into meltdown almost immediately, and how can you possibly learn to cook, and feed yourself in that environment?
At Denbridge, everyone eats and cooks together, with support from staff, and over time this becomes part of a normal eating pattern and experience. The key here is things changing over time, which is why this follow on after hospital is so important, it gave me time to regain strength, reflect on where I had been and look towards the future.
The staff at Denbridge are all highly trained and do an amazing job, which I think has been evident by the amount of ex-residents getting involved now, to help try and stop the closure of such a highly regarded service.
Money can always be found by trusts if they really want to do something, it is not too late to turn this around and keep this home open.