“Creating hope and resilience”: New research to improve online meal support training for carers

1 Mar, 2023

Carers are invited to participate in a free, online supportive meal therapy training program, as part of new research aimed at equipping carers with the skills to best support their loved one’s treatment and recovery.

The Shared Table is an e-learning designed to give carers the knowledge, strategies and tools to confidently provide their loved one with the physical and emotional support they need before, during and after meals.

Meal support is one of the most fundamental aspects of care for people with eating disorders but it can be highly stressful, according to Eating Disorders Queensland CEO Belinda Chelius.

The Shared Table is about empowering carers and creating hope and resilience. Eating Disorders Queensland has created this program to give carers the knowledge and skills to confidently deliver supportive meal therapy; to see the loved one behind the eating disorder and to know what they’re doing is right,” said Ms Chelius.

"Carers have told us that The Shared Table has significantly increased their knowledge of supportive meal therapy (SMT) and their skills. While these early results are promising, we’re excited it will be a part of a more in-depth study to ensure we’re giving carers access to the best possible resources.”

Lead researcher Dr Morgan Sidari says The Shared Table evaluation study aims to improve treatment outcomes by providing carers with the most relevant skills, knowledge and support.

“In the home environment, the provision of SMT falls to carers, which can be extremely challenging. Providing SMT without the appropriate knowledge and skills can lead to the individual with the eating disorder being unable to increase or maintain weight at home, thereby perpetuating the hospital/home cycle.”

"By knowing which techniques carers find useful, what increases their confidence and reduces distress, we can make sure The Shared Table is the most effective and empowering program possible.”

The study is one of several service and intervention evaluation projects that the Mainstream Collaboration, led by InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders, is conducting in partnership with key organisations in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

Mainstream lead Dr Jane Miskovic-Wheatley says one of the primary objectives of the Collaboration is to undertake translation focused testing of scalable models of care to ensure interventions represent value for money and can be implemented into mainstream clinical practice and policy.

“The Mainstream Collaboration aims to support this much needed program by funding the evaluation of the intervention to optimise the program and to publish results. All intervention programs should be appropriately evaluated to assess its safety and efficacy, and such research is an important step to making such programs more widely available to the community,” said Dr Miskovic-Wheatley

Carers of individuals with an eating disorder aged 18 years and over are invited to participate in the evaluation study by completing The Shared Table  supportive meal therapy training program