I started in dietetics as one of the first dietetic support workers in 2005 (band 3) in NHS Ayrshire & Arran. My role was to support patients who may be malnourished or at risk of developing malnutrition. The main aim was to support them to meet their maximum nutritional status using food first techniques. I visited patients at home and educated them on how to prevent weight loss and encouraged weight gain using everyday nourishing food and drinks. I enjoyed this role and had many others within the department until 2011. Over these years I did a variety of jobs ranging from clinical support to working with the mental health team supporting more complex patients in all aspects of eating well. I absolutely loved my job and the assortment of people I met.
I got the opportunity to apply and was successful in becoming a band 4 dietetic assistant practitioner within our dietetic health promotion team here in Ayrshire & Arran. This role is very different from my previous clinical job and my day to day responsibilities are hugely varied. I no longer work within a clinical setting I now have a health improvement role. Our team consists of a team lead, project co-ordinator, 2 part time Dietitians, 1 Dietetic Support Worker and 3 Dietetic Assistant Practitioner’s. It is a small team which I really enjoy working with.
Poor nutrition is one of the main sources of premature death in Scotland. Evidence shows that the first thousand days of a baby’s life (from conception to 2 years) is a crucial time for development and forming behaviours including eating habits. It is also known that almost 1 in 3 children in Ayrshire & Arran starting school are either overweight or obese. Our team aim is to work in partnership with individuals, services and agencies across settings and communities to enable and support them to improve their health through better eating.
Our team is all about prevention every day in Ayrshire!
Our training /support sessions can be bespoke and planned with the organisations requirements. However we also have a core selection of training and drop in workshops delivered throughout Ayrshire & Arran.
I am based in an old school building in Kilmarnock and start my day at 8.30am. Yesterday I started my day by gathering my training materials for an interactive weaning drop-in session I was delivering to a group of mums, carers and family members on what foods to give their babies and when. This is called ‘Messy Munchers’, because as we know weaning is “messy”. I really enjoy this session as I love to see the wee babies. I have 3 grandchildren of my own and one is a baby of 12 weeks so getting a cuddle at work is a bonus.
After this session it was back to the office for lunch and catch up with the team. My training workshop in the afternoon was with local authority catering department, this training consisting of monitoring and supporting the catering and early years staff in the implementation of “setting the table” nutrition for early years childcare in Scotland Guidance. The workshop is an interactive session with the participants learning how to incorporate appropriate snacks for the children in their care. During this workshop there is a practical element where I encourage the participants to try different ways of making snacks and how they can make them more child friendly. I do this using a non-cook NHS recipe book called “make & taste”.
This shows how the children can interact and make their own snack and have fun with food.
After clear up and dishes done its finish time of 4.30pm
So my day might entail working with mums with bumps, mums with babies, playing the fruit and veg beanbag game with toddlers or supporting other in cooking skills. There is never a dull moment in our team and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Dietetic Assistant Practitioner, NHS Ayrshire and Arran.