For about a year now, Brianna Muia has worked with us as a Mental Health Worker. As a psychology graduate with an additional social service worker diploma, she was eager to put her skills to
work as a member of the team at the in-patient Eating Disorders Residence CMHA runs in partnership with London Health Sciences Centre. In November, she was thrilled to take on new responsibilities within our inaugural Transitional Eating Disorders Residence.
The program, currently in the one year pilot phase, offers co-ed adults living with eating disorders a safe place to learn and practice skills learned in intensive eating disorders treatment, within the safety of a homelike setting in the community.
The adjustment to living with roommates is not always easy – and inevitably there are a few bumps in the road. However, the benefits have far outweighed any new resident pains.
“What most surprised me, and what was so wonderful to observe, is the incredible mutual support network that has developed. The residents support, encourage and advocate for each other in small ways each day,” she shares.
The residents gather with staff once a week for a structured, group meeting. The rest of the time is devoted to individual support of the activities of daily living that they practice in order to live healthy, full lives in the community. Staff like Brianna offer assistance with grocery lists and shopping, recipe selection, use of new appliances and kitchen tools, and other activities of daily living.
Building on each resident’s own interests and needs, Brianna also facilitates community connections and supports their re-engagement with family and friends within their social networks. There are great resources in the community, some run by Hope’s Garden or CMHA’s Leisure and Lifeskills Program, for example. Creating some daily structure with groups, appointments and activities is helpful for people who may not have a job and need to feel a sense of purpose when they wake in the morning,” says Muia. “Once they move out of the residence, this community program participation will be in place to support them with the transitions back to their own homes.”
In the four months since it opened, the Transitional Eating Disorders Residence has provided a safe location to practice new skills and gain confidence. For all three residents, the kitchen has gone from “daunting” to a place where they feel more ease and less distress as they try new foods and new ways of approaching meal planning and preparation.
If you are a service provider who would like to referral a patient or client to the Eating Disorders Transitional Residence, please complete our online referral form.