The role of Eating Disorder Resource Nurse (EDRN) was self-created and implemented based on an identified need to address a lack of consistency in care, and minimal guidelines or direction to support, effectively working with the population of patients with an eating disorder.  The objective was to improve consistency of care and treatment by creating a specialized nursing role whose function was to build capacity, educate, lead, collaborate with and advocate for patients with eating disorders and their families and staff who were caring for them.

With dedicated time, two nurses developed guidelines, educational resources and documentation tools specific to patients with eating disorders. The resources were grounded in evidence based practice and were developed meet the needs of this unique patient population. The two nurses received additional training specific to eating disorder management, giving them the tools to become case managers and to develop unique care plans for each admitted patient in order to guide this interdisciplinary practice. In addition to being the case coordinators, the nurses supported other nurses and the interdisciplinary team, in learning about the needs of individuals admitted with an eating disorder and building capacity to effectively provide evidence based care. The new role was trialed on a nine month basis and was successfully implemented three years ago.

The EDRN role has demonstrated improvements in admission and intake process;  transition to outpatient services and transition from pediatrics to adult services; discharge planning; consistent meal support; patient outcomes;  patient and family understanding of eating disorders; family involvement; staff knowledge base and competencies in providing care to patients with eating disorders; the use of NG tubes as a last resort, and consistency in the way care is provided to this complex patient population.  As well, the average length of stay of patients with eating disorders decreased by 36% in the first year after this role was implemented.

The EDRNs continue to enhance their knowledge and expertise in the treatment of individuals admitted with an eating disorder. They have completed an extensive certification process, becoming the first two Certified Eating Disorder Registered Nurses in Canada through the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals.  Beyond the IWK, the two EDRNs have been readily sharing their expertise provincially, nationally and internationally through a publication, presentations and linkages with other organizations who have heard about this innovative work.

The creation of the EDRN role itself was innovative and the EDRNs are leaders in care for the population of patients with eating disorders.

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Title: Clinical Manager, Garron Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health

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