At South Tees our dietetics service works across the acute hospital bases in Middlesbrough and Northallerton and into the wider community across the South Tees and Hambleton and Richmondshire areas.
We work with people across the age range – from birth to older people’s medicine.
People have diverse needs, and they may require support to help them with specific medical conditions, for example diabetes, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease, coeliac disease or other conditions affecting their gastrointestinal tract.
Some may require advice to help them to gain weight for example if they are having, or recovering from, treatment which makes it difficult to eat and drink or, because of a long-term condition, or an accident/critical incident.
Some people need specialist team support to help them to lose weight.
Nazleen, dietetic support worker
Why did you want to be a dietetic support worker?
I have always had an interest in nutrition and people’s behaviours with food and how they impact on health and wellbeing.
Before committing to a degree course or an apprenticeship I wanted to gain an insight into the day-to-day working life of a dietitian and the different areas they specialise in.
This role allows me to work alongside dietitians and helped me decide what I want from my career and how to achieve it. I am hoping to go on and do a degree apprenticeship in dietetics.
Reviewing patients, assisting them in how to achieve the goals set by their dietitian. This could be weight loss, weight gain or even just how to maintain a steady weight.
Sometimes we follow up patients who are taking supplements as prescribed or recommend something more suitable if necessary.
I liaise regularly with representatives from different nutrition and pharmaceutical companies to stay informed about any new products on the market.
I also go out and weigh patients in their own homes or run weight check clinics at various locations across the South Tees area.
Some of my colleagues are based at the main hospital sites and work alongside the dietitians to provide support to patients on the inpatient wards, working closely with ward and catering staff.
Most fulfilling part of the job?
Seeing patients at the start of their journey with us and telling them that there are lots of options to explore. Alsoâ¯seeing patients not needing our service anymore as they are now at a healthy weight and have established healthy eating habits to maintain this.
Why did you want to be a dietitian?
I always knew that I wanted to help people in some shape or form within my job role as I am such a people person! That, plus my love for food and its importance within every culture – becoming a dietitian was an obvious choice for me!
In addition to that, there is so much diversity within dietetics. I am able to specialise in an area that interests me most but also allows me the freedom toâ¯change specialties.
This is important to me because as humans, we’re constantly evolving and changing.
Day to day tasks?
My first task of the day is to check in with my team. I then review my work for the day and organise my tasks. Every day is different, but the bulk of my work is patient facing in lots of different environments such as clinics, care homes, homes, schools or hospital wards. When assessing patients who have been referred to us it often involves speaking to the patient, carers, family, medical teams and nursing teams.
I see a huge variety of people; from babies with allergies, to elderly patients requiring nutrition support. I also work with people requiring artificial nutrition via tube feeding. Due to this, I often come across new challenges, therefore I am always reviewing research to help me problem solve. We use research papers, national policies, and group discussion to increase knowledge.
Between patients, I am also responding to queries from our community patients, carers/families, consultants, and GPs, and triaging new referrals that come in. I may also be working with students who are on placement, training to become dietitians.
Every week I also attend a stroke multidisciplinary team meeting alongside consultants, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and therapist assistants. Here we discuss patients that are on our stroke ward to address any issues with facilitating a safe discharge.
My last task of the day is to check there are no outstanding urgent tasks or messages that need to be actioned. Then I check what is on my schedule for tomorrow, before finishing work for the day.
My role is based out in the community setting. Some of my colleagues are based in the main hospital so will work more within hospital wards and some outpatient clinical areas. Some of our roles enable us to ‘rotate’ across different localities, which helps us to get experience in many clinical areas so that we can learn more about where we may want to specialise in the future.
Most fulfilling part of the job?
Knowing I have had a positive impact on a person's life, no matter how big or how small it may seem, I go home knowing I have helped someone.