Activities for children and young people with eating disorders

There is a wide choice of activities for patients to enjoy. Some may be able to participate immediately on admission, others may wait until they have recovered their strength enough to do so. Therapeutic activities form part of the overall physical and mental health treatment we offer. Activities include dance, games, movies, yoga, art, crafts and drama.  There are also social outings such as eating out in order to build resilience for those family activities once they are discharged.



Young people at Ellern Mede can continue with hobbies, particularly arts and crafts, knitting or sewing but also outdoor pursuits. Staff will support patients to access local facilities such as stables. Dance and yoga can be arranged for patients too and there is also the choice of the gardening group and other outside activities. Patients with pet dogs can have their pets brought in by a parent to visit them in Ellern Mede hospital gardens.

Social eating
Our dietetics team and activity co-ordinators encourage patients to build up their experience of interpreting their meal plan in community restaurants or cafes. This is a weekly outing.

Social snack
Ellern Mede introduced a Social Snack programme for patients who are still too challenged by their illness to participate in social eating in the community. As a first step towards this, patients can take a packed lunch or packed snack to eat out picnic style in the park accompanied by staff.

School time 9.30am to 3pm

All children who receive medium to long term inpatient care are entitled to school education and this is provided and separately funded, often by Local Authorities and sometimes by parents, through Ellern Mede School in London and Ellern Mede Moorgate School in South Yorkshire. This is not only part of a child’s education but also of their therapy as it is therapeutic education acknowledging special learning needs. Most of our inpatients partake of the school day. Those who have left school but are still in education such as college may also want to participate in the school day receiving bespoke support from dedicated tutors. The school fee is £175 a day.

Pets as therapy
At Ellern Mede we offer Pet Therapy for those who would find it useful.   We have several therapy dogs. Many of the young people who receive treatment with us enjoy contact with, walking and playing with the dogs.  We also invite visits from external therapy dogs, and sometimes other animals such as from a petting zoo.

School break activity programmes
We ensure that we fill what used to be school time with activities which are fun, therapeutic and social. This helps patients to practice skills they learn in hospital in a more independent community setting.  Events planned for the summer include, social outings, a visit from the petting zoo, a summer art programme, weekly drama workshops, barbecues and outdoor games.