Contact the service

Call 01637 834 845 or email the Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Service.

Open Monday to Friday. 9am to 5pm. This service does not operate on Bank Holidays.

The address below is for correspondence only, we do not hold clinics at these premises. Check your appointment letter for clinic location.

Write to: First Floor Offices, Building A, Green Court, Truro Business Park, Threemilestone, Truro, TR4 9LF.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Service

The service is a countywide specialist community eating disorder team for children referred by healthcare professionals.

The team offer community-based assessment and intervention for children and young people under the age of 18 years, with suspected or diagnosed avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, sometimes referred to as ARFID.

We do not offer treatment for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. If you feel that you or your child are suffering from these conditions, refer to the links further down this page.

What is avoidant restrictive food intake disorder?

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder is a relatively newly recognised condition that describes feeding difficulties such as:

  • an apparent lack of interest in eating or food
  • avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food
  • concern about aversive consequences of eating (for example being sick or choking)

To be given a diagnosis, the feeding difficulties must be severe enough to impact the child or young person’s ability to meet their:

  • energy needs
  • nutritional needs
  • psychosocial functioning (ability to perform their day-to-day activities)

This would typically be associated with:

  • concerns around weight or failure to grow as expected
  • nutritional deficiency
  • dependence on alternative feeding (such as supplements or tube feeding)
  • significant difficulties in psychosocial functioning, which means difficulties functioning in daily life (such as poor school attendance, not eating all day at school, unable to attend family, peer or school functions)

About the team

Our team comprises a:

  • clinical psychologist
  • specialist dietician
  • specialist occupational therapist
  • clinical coordinator

We also work alongside our colleagues from community paediatrics and child psychiatry.

Guiding principles

  • Not every child or young person with restricted food intake or with disordered eating will have an eating disorder. Eating disturbances including acute food refusal can be features of other conditions or difficulties.
  • The team works with families, young people and other services known to them, to consider what may be driving or maintaining their restrictive eating difficulty.
  • Joint working approaches are the foundation to deliver holistic care for mental and physical health needs. We work with other services because a joint approach is needed to better meet the needs of children experiencing restrictive eating difficulties.
  • We may signpost to other services and resources, where other needs are identified as a priority.
  • All young people and families can access and engage with recommended resources for learning, support and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder awareness.
  • We value hearing the child or young person’s voice and understanding the difficulties the avoidant and restrictive eating has on the whole family.

Referrals

We consider referrals from health professionals such as:

  • paediatricians
  • GPs
  • children’s nursing
  • dieticians
  • CAMHS and learning disability teams
  • school nursing
  • health visiting
  • allied health professionals

We do not accept self-referrals. If you are a parent with worries about your child/ young person’s eating you can access lots of information about eating and feeding support via the Parent Carer Cornwall Neurodevelopmental Hub.

If you have significant concerns about your child’s growth or nutrition, make an appointment with your GP to discuss these concerns.

Who we see

We consider referrals from health professionals if they feel the child or young person meets our referral criteria.

We see children and young people under the age of 18 years registered with a GP in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly that have:

  • significant impact on nutritional intake not meeting nutritional needs and/ or dependent on nutritional supplements (including those fed through a tube)
  • significant concerns around growth, faltering growth, weight loss or overweight or obesity
  • limited range of foods with fewer than 10 individual foods eaten on a regular basis
  • feeding difficulties causing significant impact on everyday functioning

Adapted from the ICD-11 criteria for avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (6B83).

We do not see children and young people who have:

  • eating and feeding difficulties that are associated with concerns around weight and shape (including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, these conditions are managed by the Eating Disorder Service)
  • lack of appetite that is primarily caused or better explained by a medical condition or treatment
  • feeding difficulties resulting from insufficient/ not enough food available to them

Referrals to the team cannot be considered without a recent height, weight and blood pressure measurement as this information is required to triage and prioritise referrals.

The team work alongside other health and education professionals to support children and families around feeding. We require the child and young person to remain under the care of their paediatrician as well as any community dieticians, therapists or health professionals(such as occupational or speech and language therapists or psychologists) who may already be involved.

How do I make a referral to the service?

  • Referrals can be made by a health professional.
  • We require children or young people referred to the team to remain under the care of a nominated professional within your organisation throughout our involvement with the child.
  • Referrals can only be accepted on a completed referral form. This ensures all relevant information is available to support our clinical decision-making.
  • Health professionals should email the team to request a referral form.

We are developing an information and referral page on the Referral Management System under paediatrics. This will be accessible to all health professionals, however, this is not yet operational. The additional information will enable referrers to decide which of the available services for support around eating or drinking difficulties would be most appropriate for the child or young person. Once we are live on the system, referral forms will be accessible via this page.

If you are having trouble getting referred to our service, contact us. We know that getting support is important when managing an eating disorder, so we want to avoid delays as much as we can. However, we cannot accept the referral without the information outlined above.

Any immediate concerns arising need to be directed to the child or young person’s GP, NHS 111 or emergency department. Children and young people with a sudden deterioration in eating and feeding skills may require hospital admission.

Alternatively, call the 24/7 Mental Health Response Line on 0800 038 5300. If in immediate danger, call 999. You can also call the Samaritans free on 116 123. Kooth is a free and anonymous online support for young people, open Monday to Friday, midday to 10pm and at the weekends from 6pm until 10pm.

What happens after a referral is made?

Once the team has received your referral, they will carefully consider the information to ensure where the needs of the young person will most appropriately be met.

The iThrive framework is the basis for decision-making across the domains of getting advice, getting help, getting more help and getting risk support.

What to expect from our service

Using our eligibility criteria and the i-Thrive model, the clinicians will identify which pathway will best meet the child or young person’s needs.

Our team provides a range of i-Thrive support and interventions across the domains of getting advice, getting help, getting more help and getting risk support.

Getting advice

  • Signposting to a range of resources, information and support.
  • Online parent carer group.
  • Voluntary, community or social enterprise organisations.
  • Parent Carer Cornwall Neurodevelopmental Hub.

Getting help

  • Multi-disciplinary team consultations offered to referring healthcare professional.
  • Training to support professional staff teams.

What should I expect from a multi-disciplinary team consultation?

Our multi-disciplinary team consultations usually run on a Tuesday. They enable services who already have professional relationships with the child or young person and family to seek specialist clinical advice and guidance. The consultation will be held with the referring professional not with the child or young person or family.

To help us understand the impact of the feeding difficulties on the child or young person and family we will send out several forms and questionnaires for the referrer to complete with the family prior to the consultation. There will be a combination of clinicians at these meetings, usually including a medic and allied health professionals.

The consultations will be held either in person or online via Microsoft Teams with the referring professional or team to discuss their referral, current concerns and expectations for the child and young person.

As a team, we will develop a formulation report based on our discussions at the consultation. The referring professional will then arrange to meet with the family to share the formulation report.

The service do not offer direct interventions as part of a consultation but seek to support other services to implement a range of options.

Getting more help

What should I expect from an initial assessment?

The child or young person and family will be offered an initial in person (face-to-face) assessment in either the medic led clinic or allied health professional led clinic (such as psychologist, dietician, or occupational therapist).

These clinics usually run on a Tuesday. The assessments generally last up to 2 hours.

There will usually be between 2 and 5 clinicians including a combination of medic, psychologist, occupational therapist, and dietician. This can seem like a lot of people, but it helps us to make a more complete assessment of your child or young person’s current difficulties and aims to avoid multiple assessment with different professionals.

The team may need to do some physical monitoring (such as weight, height, blood pressure) and potentially a blood test. However, this will be highlighted in your appointment letter and support will be provided if needed.

To help us understand the impact of the feeding difficulties on the child or young person and family we will send out several forms and questionnaires for the family to complete prior to the assessment.

Parents and carers need to attend the assessments with their child. It is really important to get the perspectives of everyone involved. We offer time for parents to speak with the clinicians without the child or young person present and where appropriate for the child/ young person to speak with the clinicians individually.

We value hearing the child or young person’s voice and understanding the difficulties the avoidant and restrictive eating has on the whole family.

What happens at the end of the assessment?

The initial assessment aims to develop a shared understanding between the child or young person, family and professional of the feeding difficulty. This determines whether the service is the right service for them.

If it is not the most appropriate service, the assessment provides alternative recommendations for that individual. This could include getting advice with some suggested strategies or escalation to getting risk support. A copy of this outcome report will be sent to the individual or family, GP, referrer and other teams who support the family. This could include redirection to another service for example Eating Disorder Service or CAMHS.

If this is the most appropriate service, the child or young person may be offered further sessions.

At this point the child or young person will be assigned a link allied health professional from the service.

Where will an assessment be offered?

Depending on whether you attend a medic led or allied health professional led clinic, the assessment is most likely to take place in mid-Cornwall, for example in Truro.

Getting risk support

  • Urgent medical review.
  • Complex case discussion.
  • Support from Multi-Agency Rapid Response Service, Sowenna, safeguarding and referral where needed.

What should I expect?

  • Getting risk support is for children and young people who need urgent medical review and safety planning with the paediatrician.
  • Where children, young people or parent or carer have not consented or under the Mental Capacity Act or Mental Health Framework, a complex case discussion may be needed with the referring health professional.
  • If high risk of suicide, serious self harm, self neglect and/or risk to others, support may be considered from the Multi-agency Rapid Response Service. In some circumstances mental health inpatient admission may be required. A safeguarding and multi-agency referral unit referral may also be required.
  • The service will not hold ongoing clinical responsibility for children or young people on the getting risk support pathway.

Useful information

Information for professionals including risk management

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder is most typically a chronic condition, with food restriction being long standing and so the child or young person may not present as acutely physically unwell.

Any of the red flags below indicate a clinical emergency and referrers must follow the guidance given.

Red flags

Any 1 or more of the following:

  • heart rate less than 40 beats per minute or irregular
  • blood pressure sitting systolic less than 80mmHg, diastolic less than 50mm Hg
  • temperature less than 35.5 C
  • food intake of no food or less than 500Kcal per day for 5 days or more
  • weight loss of more than 1kg per week for 2 consecutive weeks
  • fluid restriction resulting in symptoms of dehydration or poor urine output

For any red flags, the referrer must contact the child or young person’s GP on the day for advice and onward referral to the local paediatric team (for all young people up to the age of 18).

Contact information

  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (Treliske), call 01872 250 000 or contact the on-call consultant paediatrician
  • University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (Derriford), call 01752 202 082 or contact the on-call consultant paediatrician

Information for parents and carers

Should your child or young person’s mental health, physical health or risk worsen, contact their current health professional to share this information.

If following assessment your child or young person is accepted for further sessions, they will be placed on a waiting list. Waiting times for this can vary depending on the clinical demand for the service.

Although your child or young person may be allocated a link professional to assist with your communication with the team, we provide a team approach to support your child or young person’s journey through our service.

Due to demand for our services, we encourage you to inform of us of any appointments you may need to cancel or rearrange. We follow a ‘was not brought’ policy. This policy means we have a limit of missed appointments we can accept before considering discharge from the service. This is to ensure all children and young people waiting are safeguarded and allows other people waiting for support to access help in a timely way.

We are not a crisis service. Professionals can provide a maximum number of appointments at any given time due to supporting many children and young people. This means that if your child or young person is open to the team and requires more intensive support due to an increased risk to themselves or others, a support request can be made to our Multi-Agency Rapid Response Service for enhanced risk support if clinically appropriate.

Information for young people

We understand that coming to meet unfamiliar people and sharing personal information with us can feel an overwhelming or a worrying experience.

Your first experience of meeting our team will be at your initial assessment. This assessment hopes to explore a range of topics so that we can better understand you.

We will ask you questions about:

  • family life
  • hobbies
  • education
  • your physical health including eating and drinking
  • what you are struggling with at present
  • how things could be better for you
  • any goals you might have
  • your safety within yourself, at home and in the community

We encourage you to think about some of these topics, your strengths, and challenges ahead of the appointment and you are welcome to write notes down and bring this with you. This might be helpful in making sure you share as much information with us as you can to help your assessment outcome.

We offer you time to be seen alone in the assessment if that would be helpful for you.

We are here to learn what your needs are. This might mean that other services might be more helpful for you based on what you would like support with.

Attending appointments is not something you have to do. It is your choice to work with us as your care will be led by you.

If you do not feel ready to work with us, or if you decide you would like to stop attending once you have started, we will respect your decision and will provide safety planning for you.

If we feel that you are at high risk of harm and not feeling able to work with us, we may discuss alternative options with you and your parent or carers.

All information you share with us in your appointments will be kept confidential between yourself and the team. If you share any information with a professional that suggests you may have been or are currently at risk of harm from others or to others, we have a duty of care to share this with the relevant services. If we need to do this, we will be open with you as to why we are doing this and who we are sharing this information with.

If you require reasonable adjustments to be made prior to your appointment, let us know as soon as possible.