Fletton Avenue – Craig’s Success Story

November 21, 2019

Craig, a 32-year-old man, with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) moved to Fletton Avenue, a specialist residential service in Peterborough for individuals with PWS, three years ago, after his health reached crisis point.

Prior to this, Craig had been living with his family in North London. He was struggling to control his eating and his weight had escalated to 31 stone. As a result, he had been diagnosed as morbidly obese and had also developed the life-threatening secondary condition, type 2 diabetes.

PWS is a rare genetic disorder affecting one in 15,000 people in the UK. It is characterised by a persistent hunger, excessive appetite and a lack of satiety cues which means individuals with the condition never feel ‘full’ and need specialist support to carefully manage their food intake.

Both morbid obesity and type 2 diabetes have a higher prevalence amongst individual with PWS, particularly those who do not have a calorie-controlled diet and/or appropriate exercise regime in place.

Initially, Craig’s mum and dad were concerned about Craig moving to Fletton Avenue and felt very guilty that he was leaving the family home, however they recognised that he needed specialist care and support to help him to manage his weight and to learn diet and exercise strategies that would help him to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

The team at Fletton Avenue all receive specialist training in supporting individuals with PWS. The team ensure individuals have a clear, calorie-controlled diet with meals planned in advance to reduce food anxiety and stress.

Since moving to Fletton Avenue, Craig has been on a specially devised PWS eating plan which consists of 1,200 calories a day. While this may not sound like a lot of calories, it is important to remember that individuals with PWS metabolise at a far slower rate than individuals without a PWS diagnosis.

The service has an in-house cook who makes freshly cooked and nutritious meals for the individuals. They also prepare the menu’s six weeks in advance and include the individuals in planning meals which helps to reduce food anxiety.  

Joanne Connolly, Service Manager at Fletton Avenue explains, “For individuals with PWS it is important that there is a good quantity on their plate, so our cook Sarah does a fantastic job ensuring plates are piled high with lots of healthy nutritious vegetables, as well as a balance of protein and carbohydrates.” 

“Full plates also help the supported individuals to feel visually satisfied as well as reducing food anxieties.  Our supported individuals also have dessert after lunch and tea every day, again this is always homemade.”

“The team also build in treats for the residents so that individuals don’t feel deprived and have the temptation to food seek. This includes a ‘tuck on Saturday’ treat and a three-month treat such as going to McDonalds or having a takeaway,” added Jo. 

3 years after he first arrived at Fletton Avenue, Craig has lost over half his body weight and is healthy, happy and active member of the local community.

“The individuals we are supporting are grown adults, so our aim is to give them as much choice as possible while also mitigating risk. The team plan meals on a six-weekly basis from Monday through to Saturday. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. The other part of the approach is to support individuals to live active and fulfilling lives which helps distract them from thoughts of food and reduces food anxiety,” said Jo.  

Previously Craig had to attend hospital in London every two months to monitor his health, but now not only has he been completely taken off his diabetes medication but on his last visit in October the doctors were so pleased with his results they said they did not need to see him again for another six months.

At Fletton Avenue, the team also support individuals to develop and maintain relationships that are important to them such as with their family, partners and friends. Since moving to Fletton Avenue Craig has developed a large social circle and has also found love with his girlfriend Melissa who he sees regularly at the drumming class they both attend and at the local disco. 

While Craig’s family were initially very worried about him coming to Fletton Avenue they now cannot speak more highly of the service. Knowing that Craig is happy and settled has given Craig’s mum and dad the peace of mind that they continue with their plans to retire in Jamaica safe in the knowledge that Craig is living a happy, fulfilling and independent life.  

“The team are really proud of Craig and what he has achieved since moving to Fletton Avenue. With the right support and structure in place around food and exercise, he has been able to bring his weight down to a healthy level and completely come off his diabetes medication which is a fantastic result.”

It is wonderful to see how much Craig has grown in confidence and is really enjoying life. He has a great circle of friends, a girlfriend he adores and takes part in lots of activities in the local community. It is also wonderful to see the peace of mind this has given his mum and dad who are delighted by how much Craig has thrived here,” added Jo.   

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