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Adult Eating Disorders Service: Creating art as part of healing journey

Image of Jenah St-Jacques, AEDS Dietitian, places a denim patch on the quilt that provides inspirational messaging to all patients.

February 1, 2023

The Adult Eating Disorders Service (AEDS) at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), was developed to meet the needs of adults requiring treatment for eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and other feeding and eating disorders.

October 2022 marked 10 years of the Adult Eating Disorders Service (AEDS) providing community-based programming, helping more than 1,400 patients through their outpatient, day treatment and residential services so far.

The AEDS offers a few different programs to support patients with their therapeutic goals:

  • A residential program that provides 24-hour care to support patients with their therapeutic goals. Residence consists of four and a half weeks, followed by three and a half weeks of day treatment and twelve weeks of outpatient care. Through this program, staff also help educate families and friends about eating disorders and how they can best support their loved one. This program is the first, and only, of its kind in Ontario.
  • An outpatient program that meets once a week to help patients interrupt their symptoms.
  • A day treatment program that offers intensive service for eight weeks, followed by twelve weeks of the outpatient program. This is a virtual group program that meets five days a week (Monday to Friday) that helps with interrupting symptoms at a faster rate.

The AEDS provides a holistic approach to supporting adults impacted by these diseases. Before being placed in a program, an assessment is done to determine their level of treatment requirements.

Quilt creation 

In 2014, a quilt made from old pairs of jeans from clients and staff was created. Hanging on the wall, right at the elevator where clients would go to their residence, in this quilt, clients can find words of encouragement and wisdom to aid them on their journey. These words shared from former clients can serve as helpful reminders of the path current clients are on and why they are taking it.

“The initial quilt was made with over 20 pairs of jeans from both staff and clients,” Lisa Davidson, Registered Nurse (RN), AEDS, explains. “These were those pairs of jeans in a smaller size that people would keep in the hopes they may fit in them again someday. But they were destroyed as a message that the jeans do not hold power over them. Pockets were kept so people can put inspirational messages or words of wisdom in them.”

The quilt has grown over the years starting from the size of a small throw to a full-size quilt. Clients are provided flannel pieces and craft supplies to add to the ever-growing insight and messages of hope of former clients.

“The quilt has been around for many years. New clients will comment on it and those new to treatment will often stand and read the messages that provide the inspiration they are seeking to keep going,” Lisa shares.

The residential program is affiliated with the Canadian Mental Health Association. CMHA staff provide 24/7 support to provide counselling and support for clients’ emotional needs, making the experience more like a supportive home environment. LHSC staff are in the AEDS program Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm providing support in the outpatient and day treatment programs. To attend any of these clinics, the client must be medically stable.

“This is a really well-run service with staff dedicated to clients and committed to evidence-based practice,” Lisa says. “Eating disorders are challenging to manage, but we show up each day committed to our clients and providing the best care we can in the hope of best possible outcomes.”

To learn more about the program, visit the Adult Eating Disorders Service, LHSC webpage.

Image of Image: Jenah St-Jacques, AEDS Dietitian, places a denim patch on the quilt that provides inspirational messaging to all patients.
Image: Jenah St-Jacques, AEDS Dietitian, places a denim patch on the quilt that provides inspirational messaging to all patients.