The current COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for everyone. The consequential issues of the pandemic, such as stock-piling food, increased hygiene measures, food shortage and social distancing, can be incredibly distressing and triggering for people with eating disorders.
We have put together the following guidelines to try to respond to the most common concerns, and hopefully this could provide you with a sense of guidance and support. We have identified helpful resources and educational information that includes our service protocols, common questions, tips for staying healthy and contact information.
These pages will be updated regularly with new information and resources. The clinical team has been meeting virtually daily to ensure the safety of our patients, their loved ones and our team.
Be aware of the key symptoms
The NHS has identified the symptoms of Coronavirus as:
- A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- A new continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
If you’re worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance through their online coronavirus helpline. Call 111 if your symptoms become severe. Please do not go to your GP, health service or hospital if you think you have symptoms of coronavirus.
Weakened immune system
Eating disorders can lead to severe health problems associated with not getting the right nutrients (e.g. malnutrition in anorexia nervosa), such as having a weakened immune system or anemia. An impaired immunocompetence has been shown to be an important causal factor in the increased susceptibility of malnourished individuals to infectious disease. But these will usually start to improve once your eating habits return to normal.
If you are already receiving treatment for a health issue and become ill, please let us know
If you have suspected or confirmed Coronavirus and are due to have a health appointment or receive treatment for an existing condition, please let your health team know as soon as possible. They may need to arrange alternative ways for you to receive treatment or medication.
You may find it difficult to access regular treatment services. However, we understand how important it is to ensure the continuity of your treatment and the service is working hard to provide this. According to the Oxford Health Foundation Trust Policy, we are offering virtual appointments to the majority of our community patients. This include Skype, FaceTime and telephone.
Your named clinician will contact you to offer telephone- or video-based appointments even if you can’t see them in person. If this hasn’t yet come up, ask them about what plans they have in place. You may still contact us during the pandemic. Ways of contact can be found on the Contact page or in this guideline under Crisis or Emergencies.
However, we are not a crisis service. If you need support urgently, get in touch with your local crisis team.
Crisis or Emergencies
Our service does not provide an emergency service.
You are advised to contact 999 or to go to A&E if a life-threatening physical or mental health emergency arises.
Mental health crisis
If a mental health crisis arises, you are to contact the 24-hour number of Oxford Health Foundation Trust on 01865 901000 (Oxfordshire patients), 01865 902315 or 01865 902 534 (8.30 am – 4.30 pm), or 01865 902000 (Buckinghamshire patients) where they will be directed to the relevant service (e.g. the lead clinician or care coordinator’s team during working hours or a crisis team after hours).
You can contact our offices in Oxford during working hours on 01865 902315 or 01865 902 534 (8.30 am – 4.30 pm) or Aylesbury on 01865 901 091. The office number for Wiltshire patients is 1865 904 099.
Despite the current Covid-19, we wish to assure you that we are all still working to support patients and carers. Both our team voicemail and team inbox will be monitored daily but we ask for your understanding if our response is delayed at this time.
Physical health concerns
For physical health and medical concerns please contact the GP surgery. Outside working hours, you could ring 111 or the GP surgery where you will be directed to their out-of-hours service. For a mental health crisis, outpatients would need to contact their GP or Adult/Community Mental Health Team if they are receiving care from them.
A Safe Haven can be contacted, which offers a late-night safe space for people experiencing mental health problems. You can self-refer to The Oxford Safe Haven by ringing 01865 903037 / 07710 092849 or the Bucks Safe Haven on 07508350553.
You can also contact the Samaritans. The national number is 116 123.
Non-emergency or non-crisis contact
For non-emergency or non-crisis contact, during the office hours, you may contact the numbers below, where you will be directed to the relevant service (e.g. the lead clinician or care coordinator’s team during working hours or a crisis team after hours).
- Buckinghamshire: 01865 902 000
- Oxfordshire: 01865 902 315 or 01865 902 534 (8.30 am – 4.30 pm)
- Wiltshire: 01865 904 099
Despite the current situation regarding the Covid-19, we wish to assure you that we are all still working to support patients and carers. All of our team voicemail and team inbox will be monitored daily but ask for your understanding if our response is delayed at this time
Keep up to date on the latest guidance
You can check national guidance about measures to take and the latest news. Use only trustworthy and reliable sources and be wary of fake news and rumours which can confuse and worry people. You can also limit guidance checking to once a day to help reduce stress.
Understand the guidance on self-isolation and cope with isolation
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, current guidance states that you should stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. For full guidance, see here.
Even if you don’t experience any symptoms and have not been in touch with people who are symptomatic, in order to keep everyone well at the moment we need to keep our distance from each other so everyone is being asked to stay at home except necessary trips to shops and pharmacy. For full guidance, see here.
However, you may experience a sense of isolation due to the government’s guideline on social-distancing. BEAT has created an online group specifically in response to the Coronavirus & subsequent social distancing & anxieties this could lead to for people with an eating disorder. It is a safe space for people with an eating disorder to share concerns and advice on how they are coping with the pandemic. Please refer to the link below for more information:
Food, Exercise, Routine and Socialising
BEAT provided a general guideline on managing food, exercise, routine and social distancing during the pandemic. Please refer to the link below for more information:
Take care of your general health and wellbeing
The organisation Mind has put together some useful resources and advice for people staying home during this time. Eating well, moving around if you are able to and trying to get good sleep can all help.
Apps to help you cope with anxiety
How will the Carers, Relatives and loved ones of eating disorders be supported during the pandemic?
A new Carers Newsletter is being drafted to provide you with up to date information and support during this difficult and unprecedented time. This will be available on the Cotswold House website and will be emailed to those carers for whom we have email addresses in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Carers Support: If you would like to book a telephone support session to discuss challenges you may be facing at this difficult time, please email your name, contact telephone number and a brief message to your local community eating disorders service in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire at:
- Buckinghamshire: email@example.com
- Oxfordshire: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wiltshire: oxfordhealth.wiltscommunityED@nhs.net
A new telephone support service will include a friendly, regular weekly call to see how people are, to chat and also problem-solve if you are facing practical problems.
If you think you would benefit from this service, please phone the number below which will connect straight to an answerphone where you can leave your name and contact number.
- Phone: 01865 411 288
- Website: www.carersoxfordshire.org.uk
Advice and Guidance delivered by phone. Monday to Thursday 9am – 5pm, and Friday 9am – 4.30pm.
There is also some useful advice about the current situation on their website.
- Phone: 0300 777 2722
- Website: carersbucks.org/home/coronavirus-carers-bucks/
BEAT Support for Carers
You may find out more about supporting someone during the current situation at the BEAT link below.
- Website: www.carersuk.org
- Phone: 0808 808 7777
A telephone helpline is available on Mondays and Tuesdays, 10am – 4pm
Advice regarding A&E and 111
To help reduce unnecessary A&E attendance the following has been put in place:
- For collapse or Overdose (emergency physical health concern) contact: A&E / 999
- For feeling physically unwell / risk of collapse contact: GP or 111 – They will triage and send to A&E /999 if warranted
- Deliberate self-harm / suicidal / feeling unsafe contact: GP / 111 – These calls will be diverted to the new Mental Health Urgent Care Centre. This is a new service for all mental health emergency needs and will offer emergency assessment and treatment. They do not accept self-referrals and patients will need to go through a professional to be referred here.
Easy to Read Materials
Here are a range of easy to read materials you might find useful produced by Oxford Health and other organisations.
Do not panic
Try not to worry. The NHS is working hard to manage this and remember that for the majority of people who contract the virus, symptoms will be mild.
Last updated: 15 April, 2020