Wandi Nerida

Wandi Nerida, Australia’s first residential care facility for people affected by eating disorders, is set to open in July 2021, transforming the way eating disorders are treated. The model of care, created by Butterfly Foundation, provides an opportunity for more intensive psychological support, making recovery a reality for individuals affected by an eating disorder.

Why is this needed?

There is currently a lack of treatment options in Australia for eating disorders, with access to treatment often dependent on where you live and your ability to fund treatment. Deloitte Access Economics estimated in 2015 that close to one million Australians had an eating disorder, but less than 25% were in treatment. During 2020, Butterfly Foundation experienced a 116% increase in webchat contacts and a 35% increase in all contacts to their national helpline, with isolation exacerbating psychological distress. In a survey, two-thirds of those with eating disorders reported that coronavirus had affected their ability to seek treatment and support.

Young people are most at risk of developing an eating disorder and early intervention is key, with prospects for recovery highest for those who receive treatment within two years of the onset of an eating disorder. The average duration of illness is seven years.

Most presentations for treatment are when a person is needing hospital care. Treatment in hospital focuses on the ‘crisis’ aspects, such as the physical health of a patient, rather than the underlying psychological drivers of their illness. After being discharged there are few services to support recovery and the result is a revolving door back into hospital. Wandi Nerida provides a bridge between hospital admission and outpatient care, offering a unique opportunity for a more intensive psychological recovery, finding the ‘healthy self’ amidst the eating disorder. The expected length of stay at Wandi Nerida is 60 days which is significantly longer than the average 21 – 28 day hospital stay.

What is Wandi Nerida?

The purpose-built residential facility provides a home-like environment where participants can envision recovery and establish a positive relationship with food, which they can continue at home. Situated on a 25-acre block in the Mooloolah Valley on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Wandi Nerida offers a program of holistic care in a serene, natural setting, all designed to aid recovery.

Care programs are tailored to tackle the symptoms, behaviours and socio-psychological factors associated with eating disorders. Each participant is instrumental in the design of their recovery plan and a multidisciplinary team works collaboratively to address patients’ individual medical, emotional, physical and nutritional needs. Individual therapy is coupled with group therapy, a powerful agent for change in fostering social connection and peer feedback for accountability and support.

What’s the bigger picture?

Wandi Nerida aims to provide the evidence for a more effective way to treat eating disorders while saving costs and reducing hospital admissions. The model of care has been created by Butterfly Foundation, Australia’s preeminent eating disorder support organisation, drawing on leading global practice. Butterfly Foundation’s approach is underpinned by a set of treatment principles that are universally accepted in contemporary best-practice clinical care. Independent evaluation of the outcomes will be conducted by two independent and well-recognised research institutions with the evaluations to be conducted over several years, determining the effectiveness of the approach and the case for further investment.

Keen to learn or do more?

To learn more, visit the Wandi Nerida website. The Federal Government has supported this initiative with a $2 million contribution towards facility building costs, and an additional $4 million commitment to support service establishment and initial operations – including two beds for the first year of operation.

The Butterfly Board have personally contributed philanthropic funding of $3.5 million to support the service over three years from July 2021. If you are inspired to help, donations are greatly appreciated. Please contact Rebecca Havas at rebecca.havas@butterfly.org.au  or click here.

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