I am currently working as lead Health and Well-being Coordinator at Dumfries House (part of the wider charity The Prince’s Foundation) but I’m still very much a Dietitian. Food plays such an important role in people’s lives and there is real interest in food and how it can affect physical health and also wider well-being. I had a wonderful time and career in the NHS, working there for 34 years. I have been fortunate in the roles I have had, from hospital services, to community services and to a management role, but my passion was working in promoting health and in supporting people in weight management.
Whether it was right place, right time or what is for you, won’t go by you, an opportunity to work as a health and well-being Coordinator at Dumfries House came up and I jumped at the chance to be part of a small multidisciplinary team of two. Myself and my colleague who is a registered nurse, develop health and well-being programmes to support local communities surrounding the estate. The health programmes are part of the wider strategy, Heritage-led Regeneration, and were developed after consultation with local services. We focus on five main areas where it was felt more support was needed, these include weight management/prediabetes, chronic pain, woman’s health in menopause and for fertility and mental well-being. We aim not to replicate existing NHS or Local Authority services but work together to offer an additional approach supporting people holistically, mind, body and spirit.
My dietetic skills and knowledge of food and nutrients, good sources of vitamins and minerals and how everything works together is applied and we engage people in discussion around their food intake. Asking the right questions and supporting their curiosity in understanding more, stand me in good stead in raising awareness and allowing people to reason it out and make decisions for themselves. Linking this with managing stress and anxiety, and using complementary and psychological therapies as tools to help with this creates a rounded programme led by the coordinator but delivered by qualified therapists. This aids understanding that we are a whole person and our thoughts, feelings and life experiences impact on our health. The environment we work in is beautifully maintained as part of the wider tourist destination and this creates a different atmosphere and our group participants are more relaxed, open minded, and willing to take part in whatever we are offering them.
Being a registered health professional has made a difference to the confidence of GPs and health professionals in referring their patients to us, to those who self-refer and to the people attending. We have a Governance structure with one of the local GPs being our clinical lead and good relationships with local dietetic departments, other AHPs, nursing and link workers as well as Primary Care and Local Health and Social Care Partnerships. Being part of the BDA, has been invaluable with CPD especially the local branch and the specialist groups, but I find that my interest is wider now, looking at mental well-being and psychological therapies.
Every day is different, we could be supporting other departments on the estate with programmes for school aged children or hosting and organising conferences, delivering presentations for health professionals or delivering our own programmes in our Health and Well-being Centre. We are funded by the Post Code Lottery and working in the third sector has given other opportunities to link with other charities like Penny Brohn and Epilepsy Scotland, to do joint work, to support each other, and to be involved in supporting the creation of a Social Prescribing Network in Scotland.