Law Edwards

Law Edwards is a Master’s qualified Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Over the last nine years, their work has focused on providing exercise intervention for the prevention and treatment of chronic health issues for individuals and communities that experience disadvantage due to social inequities, primarily, individuals living with serious mental illness.


Title: Implementation of exercise physiology and dietetic services in a high-secure forensic hospital

Author(s): Law Edwards, Elise Tripodi

Introduction: Patients admitted to the Forensic Hospital (FH) experience pronounced weight gain, increasing their risk of developing metabolic disorders. Barriers exist at the patient, staff, and organisational level to implementing the recommended physical health guidelines in a high secure forensic mental health setting.

The presentation outlines actions taken to produce an implementation plan for the integration of Exercise Physiology (EP) and Dietetic services in a high secure forensic mental health setting.

Method:A literature review, patient focus groups, staff interviews and benchmarking against mental health services contributed to the development of the implementation plan.

Results & Findings: Staff interviews found there was limited understanding of EP and dietetic services. Embedded pathways and processes are required to ensure evidence based interventions were actioned and prioritised. Patients requested healthier food availability, incentivised group programs, and timely individual consultations led by specialised clinicians.

Discussion: "Interventions targeting physical activity and nutrition in the FH have historically been delivered by non-specialist staff and do not routinely involve consumers in design and delivery. The implementation of EP and Dietetics bridges this gap, delivering collaborative specialist services to patients in a reasonable time.

This presentation will focus on the importance of integrated physical health care and the duty of mental health services in providing high quality, effective physical health intervention. We will discuss how the expectations, preferences and requirements of consumers can and should be evaluated when embedding physical health services in a unique but comparable setting.

Limitations: The environmental complexities of secure settings. Lack of understanding of the purpose of EP and Dietetic services. Inadequate staffing resources for patient population. Funding to support service growth in line with needs analysis.

Conclusions: Patient and staff consultation is critical to manage the complexity of embedding targeted, evidence-based, lifestyle interventions and ensure sustainability in a unique mental health setting."