Activities for children and young people with eating disorders
Activities are important for children and young people. When patients are ready and able, there is a wide choice of activities for them to enjoy as part of their treatment. This includes dance, games, movies, yoga, art, crafts and drama. Social outings such as trips to the cinema, local shops, and crazy golf are all part of the treatment and education programme. During school holidays patients take advantage of what London has to offer as well as local theme parks. There are activities offered in the evening and at weekends.
Young people at Ellern Mede can continue their favourite hobbies where appropriate and available, such as gardening, playing with pets, reading, art, drama, dance and yoga. Staff accompany patients to use local amenities including local stables and a local pet farm. We arrange yoga and dance classes on site as required. Young people can also, with permission, use a bicycle within the grounds. Gardening and planting vegetables or flowers can be enjoyed on site within the Gardening Group. Patients with pet dogs can have their pets brought in by a parent to visit them. One family arranged for their daughter to have her pet Pygmy Hedgehog ‘Henry’ kept on site with her while she was with us.
Music, Drama, Arts and Crafts and creative work are part of the Ellern Mede school curriculum as well as part of the varied activity programmes we offer. Patient art is displayed in the Ellern Mede Gallery at the Ridgeway Hospital.
Once a month young people are offered a social outing which in recent years have ranged from a visit to the theatre in London, to local shopping malls, and other local attractions including the London Dungeon, the London Zoo and Thorpe Park.
Our dietetics team and activity co-ordinators encourage patients to build up their experience of sticking to their meal plan in community restaurants or cafes. This is a weekly outing.
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.
Pets as therapy
Ellern Mede offers Pet Therapy for those who wish to partake. This enables children and young people to have close contact with the two therapy dogs. We also have access to a petting zoo which brings a range of pets for patients to see, hold and touch.
School break activity programmes
When school’s out, for example in the long summer holidays, activities continue. 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 for Summer 2017 included a visiting magician, a visit from the petting zoo, a summer art programme, weekly drama workshops, barbecues and outdoor games. Our weekly social outings in and around London included a London bus tour, London Dungeons, London Aquarium, Thorpe Park, visits to the Theatre, shopping trips and social eating outings to local restaurants.