Published On: May 6, 2020|Categories: Eating Disorder Information|

You recently decided to look at eating disorder treatment centers to begin your recovery or help a loved one get started with theirs. Congratulations on making that decision–and huge first step!

As you are likely noticing from the websites of different treatment facilities, the way residential treatment runs has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing, facial coverings, stay-at-home orders and other public health precautions are influencing eating disorder treatment, especially inpatient and residential options.

If you need some guidance with navigating the path to recovery amidst COVID-19, the following questions will help you assess your risk factors while in residential treatment.

Is residential treatment the right option for me?

The first question you should ask yourself is whether inpatient treatment is the best option. You should consider which eating disorder you are struggling with, and how effects from COVID-19 may influence treatment.

One factor to consider would be social distancing. While social distancing is imperative for slowing the spread of COVID-19, it can increase social isolation, which makes it harder to access a support system. This would make outpatient recovery difficult, especially when feeling challenged by an eating disorder while living alone or otherwise having minimal contact with your loved ones and healthcare professionals. In this case, residential treatment may be the ideal option since you would live at the treatment facility and have access to clinicians or other staff members at all times.

You should also consider how severe your eating disorder is. Generally, more severe cases require residential treatment. If you are malnourished, dangerously underweight or experiencing physical complications, seek emergency care at a hospital. Depending on how you respond to immediate treatment, residential eating disorder treatment may be the natural next step.

In any situation, make sure that you consult with a doctor about the most effective options for you, as everyone is different. If you would like to consider online treatment options, Seeds of Hope is offering all outpatient services through teletherapy.

Do I have underlying health conditions?

Another major factor to consider is underlying health conditions. Increased risk factors for COVID-19, such as being immunocompromised or having asthma, can make getting treatment for an eating disorder difficult. Finding appropriate residential care can seem especially challenging as you wouldn’t want to risk potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus by traveling to a treatment center.

If you have already consulted with your doctor and have decided to pursue residential treatment for your eating disorder, work together to determine if you are at increased risk for coronavirus. If so, weigh the risks versus benefits of proceeding with inpatient treatment.

Do also keep in mind that leaving an eating disorder untreated can similarly be dangerous–eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Your health and wellbeing are ultimately of paramount importance, which may mean that the benefit to your entering a residential treatment facility outweigh the risks of potentially being exposed to or contracting COVID-19.

How are treatment centers responding to COVID-19?

If you have decided that a residential treatment program is the correct path to follow, then the next step is to decide which center to choose. One way to do this is to evaluate how each residential treatment center is responding to COVID-19.

For instance, our residential treatment facility at Lake Ariel is taking several precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including two separate screenings for incoming clients: once during the level of care assessment and again on the day you admitted.

Facilities can take many other precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, in addition to health screenings:

  • Temperature checks for all residents, staff and guests upon entering;
  • Mask requirements for all residents, staff and guests;
  • Improved sanitation schedules, especially in shared spaces like group therapy rooms and dining areas;
  • Enforced social distancing;
  • Vaccination and testing requirements.

Reputable residential treatment centers for eating disorders should have their COVID-19 precaution policies readily available online or through a phone call. Be sure to call around and ultimately choose a facility that aligns with your comfort level and is committed to the health and safety of all of their residents, staff and guests.

How else can I evaluate residential eating disorder treatment centers?

Outside of the way a center is responding to COVID-19, there are more methods you can use to decide which center is right for you or your loved one. If you can’t travel to the center to find out more, other ways to obtain information include:

  • Reading reviews – Google My Business, Yelp and other online review platforms will help provide perspective and real-world experiences;
  • Taking virtual tours – Some centers have walkthroughs of their facilities available online;
  • Reading about the programming – Finding out what structure and techniques a center uses will give insight into if the treatment center is right for you.

Overall, make sure you focus on which center and program would be the most beneficial for your current situation.

Whether you enter a residential treatment center or decide to do outpatient teletherapy, remember that the most important thing is finding the right treatment option for you or your loved one. You can request an eating disorder level of care assessment by calling Seeds of Hope at (610) 644-6464 or visit our admissions page. We will help you determine whether outpatient or residential care is required.

Can Eating Disorders Be Treated Through Teletherapy?
Eating Disorders and Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders