ED: The Royal Free Approach

Our eating disorder service aims to promote early recovery through sustainable change, delivered by compassionate, individualised, holistic, evidence-based and cost-effective care.

Over the years we have heard feedback from young people, parents and clinicians that consistently suggested that treatment of eating disorders in many CAMHS out-patient or in-patient services, both in the UK and internationally, can all too often feel too rigid, restrictive, isolating and even oppressive.

At the Royal Free London, we wanted to develop a model of eating disorder care that offered something that was more acceptable to young people and families, and more effective. Our treatment philosophy is summarised by the acronym FREE: Flexible, Responsive, Empathic, Enabling.

Our treatment philosophy is underpinned by our belief, supported by evidence and service user feedback, that young people with eating disorders do better if their care can be ‘wrapped around them’. This means that we provide care seamlessly where it is needed most – whether this is at home, at school, in the community, in clinic, or even with a brief admission to our paediatric ward.

Over the years we have co-developed expertise with our paediatricians at the Royal Free Hospital to work safely and effectively in the community with young people at lower weights and greater physical needs than many other community eating disorder services. In other services these young people would need to be admitted to eating disorder units.

A particular reflection of our compassionate approach is our recognition of how anxiety provoking the treatment of eating disorders can be for young people and their parents. As a result, we always tailor our treatment plans according to both the medical need and psychological readiness of our patients. Furthermore, treatment plans are always made in collaboration with young people and parents, respecting their wishes, needs, goals and values.

Find out more about the Royal Free approach to eating disorders.