InsideOut leads NSW Dietitian Eating Disorders Supervision Program

24 May, 2023

Dietitians across NSW are gaining skills and knowledge of eating disorders by participating in Eating Disorder group clinical supervision, facilitated by InsideOut Institute.

The program, which was developed by InsideOut Institute to enable NSW Health dietitians with extensive experience of eating disorders to share their knowledge through supervision, is currently assisting 48 dietitians from Local Health Districts across rural and metro NSW to gain skills and improve access to treatment for patients.

The supervision program was established after an overwhelming response to a 2022 survey identified the need for a program to support and share knowledge of eating disorders among clinicians. It is now established as a continuing program under the NSW Service Plan for People with Eating Disorders, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people with or at risk of developing an eating disorder and the lives of their families, carers, and communities.

Maureen Moerbeck, Statewide Dietitian at InsideOut Institute and co-developer of the program, spoke about their aim to help NSW Health dietitians to provide better care and access for people with eating disorders through upskilling and knowledge sharing.

“It’s about increasing confidence working in the area – upskilling and really reinforcing the idea that everyone has a role in treating people with eating disorders. The more confident people get in doing that, the more likely they are to provide effective treatment and make links with other dietitians in the area so that we can build it as a community of practice to learn from each other.”

“For patients, access to health care professionals that know about eating disorders or have the confidence to be able to treat eating disorders means that overall, they are going to be better looked after, supported in their recovery and confident in the healthcare that’s being provided to them.” 

Statewide Dietitian and program co-developer, Caroline Hill emphasised how the program aims to enhance the important role dietitians play in the treatment of eating disorders: 

“The program recognises the role of dietitians and eating disorders and gives them the support that they need to be able to give best practice care to their patients and their clients. It also helps reduce stigma. Decreasing the stigma around eating disorders is important.”

“Eating disorders will present in any NSW Health service, and dietitians often have a significant role, especially managing patients on the ward or in community settings. This is a great way to give support from dietitians that are very experienced in eating disorders, is really validating and supportive.”

A supervisor working with dietitians in the program spoke of the positive impacts it has had on participants:

‘It is so rewarding to see the commitment from the dietitians in our group to embrace supervision and make the time to work on their confidence and build networks to improve their nutritional management of eating disorders. The role of supervision and reflection in NSW dietitians’ skill development is such an exciting space to be involved in.’

Both Hill and Moerbeck hope the program will help to establish supervision as an important part of dietetic practice. 

“We are really hoping it will be something that helps embed supervision within dietetic practice, particularly with eating disorders. Supervision within mental health settings has been embedded in practice, but it’s not as recognised in dietitian practice so by setting this up we’re hoping that it will be accepted as the best way forward for dietitians to have that ongoing support.” Hill said.

Moerbeck believes it will benefit the profession more broadly:

“It’s generating a culture for all areas of dietetics, not just eating disorders. We know that eating disorders care is a very intense and difficult area to work in, so support is very much needed.”.