First Steps ED partner with Visconn to enhance their digital offering to service users.

First Steps ED, an innovative and multi-award winning mental health and specialist eating disorder charity in Derby have partnered with Visconn to use video consultations to enhance their support to service users. Supporting people of all ages suffering with eating disorders and their families throughout the East Midlands, First Steps ED are continuing to enhance its befriending service model to broaden their offering to incorporate video support, as well as extend this offer for its traditional face-to-face appointments now being available through video as part of its choice programme approach.

In the UK, 1.25 million people are effected by an eating disorder, with an estimated 2 million other people yet to seek help. This is becoming increasingly common, with the prevalence of eating disorders becoming a widespread problem across the UK and worldwide. Most eating disorders develop during adolescence and are more common in individuals between the ages of 16 and 40 years old. With this in mind, First Steps ED are looking to leverage technology and digital platforms to support their service users. Having already received recognition in 2017 by the NHS England, Integrated Personal Commissioning National team collecting the HSJ Supported Self-Care Award, this peer-led service has listened to feedback from its service users and carers and are now looking to further increase their use of technology through Visconn to be able to support more people seeking support.

By providing service users with the option to conduct their appointments via a private and secure video connection, First Steps ED believe it will not only enhance the support they provide within the East Midlands, but it will also enable them to provide support to people outside of the region. Additionally, as the demand for support from First Steps ED continues to increase at a rate of around 70% year on year, the use of Visconn will aid them in their ongoing target of reducing their waiting times. Finally, with the NHS being targeted with incorporating video appointments into their service provision, Visconn will also enable First Steps ED to easily collaborate with other healthcare professionals, inside and outside of the NHS.

Kevin Parkinson, First Steps Chief Executive: “As a service user led charity our befriendees told us they wanted different options to connect with their befriender, and video is a perfect medium to bring service users and carers closer together. We have trailed tools like skype which works ok in most good broadband and mobile coverage locations but this can sometimes be patchy and not all of our service users live in large towns and cities.’’

Another consideration for our team was a secure online environment, and Visconn’s private client platform provides both a safe video experience and a reliable connection even for those individuals in our most isolated low-connection county communities.’’

Eddie Stanley, Director, Visconn: “We’re very keen to see our technology benefiting society, by increasing the ease in which people can access the health and care support they require. Through our partnership with First Steps ED, we’re excited to see what positive effect the combination of our solution and their truly person-centred approach can have on people’s lives.”

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