We profile two dietitians working in the public health sector – one advancing dietetic practice in a clinical and management role and one working as an antenatal dietitian and public health nutritionist – to find out more about their areas of work and what their day-to-day job involves
Public Health Advocate
Farhat shares her achievements advancing dietetic practice and her role as Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brent, at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust
Is there a ‘typical day’ in the life of a dietetic manager? Well, let’s see:
6am Quality time to calmly get the family organised and out of the house to their various schools and jobs.
8am Drop my son off at school, head for the office and arrive at work for 9am.
9.30am Travel to Brent Civic Centre and attend a 2 hour meeting for ‘Healthy Early Years’.
12pm Back to the office where I check and action emails and messages.
12.30pm Enjoy lunch – usually brought from home – and catch up on some reading.
1pm One to one meeting with a member of staff to talk through their progress, any challenges they are facing and to give guidance.
2pm Work through monthly budget statements and make any corrections needed in preparation for my monthly meeting with the senior divisional team.
3pm Meet with my administrator to work through any further urgent actions left to complete. He’s great at keeping me ‘on task’ and we use the white board to note pending actions. It’s a good time to sneak in a cup of tea and catch up on team news.
4pm Just as the day is coming towards its end I work on an urgent request from a colleague at King’s College to make final changes to a paper we wrote for publication.
6 – 7pm Navigate through heavy London traffic to reach home; prepare dinner and enjoy family time.
I’m the Head of Nutrition & Dietetics Brent, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, which is a wide-ranging and challenging clinical and management role, and to be honest no two days are the same!
I have been a Nutrition & Dietetics Service Manager for over 25 years and consider my job more as a vocation. I support a high performing team of 15 community dietitians and have the privilege of inspiring others through my dedication to prevention work and focus on promoting self-care. This work has been recognised in our Trust’s Excellence Awards – as winner of 2017 ‘Innovator of the Year’ award.
What appeals most about working in Brent is the strong sense of community here and the ability to impact the lives of others by promoting positive diet and lifestyle changes. I’m motivated by my desire to improve the well-being of the wider Brent population, particularly those who are at higher risk. Advocating a ‘whole family’ approach to health promotion helps ensure that changes are long-lasting and embedded within family life for the greater good.
I also seize opportunities to advance dietetic practice by creating innovative and high quality services – some of which have gained exemplar status. Recent examples include new local pathways for diabetes (‘Move Away from Prediabetes’ – MAP programme) and childhood obesity (‘Fit for Health’) which have won national recognition and awards. Both were created following successful bids for preventative health programmes.
The Diabetes Prevention work I led on was accepted by Allied Health Professionals for Public Health (AHPs4PH), for which I became one of 13 national public health advocates. My aim was to transform diabetes prevention for at-risk populations with complex needs and deliver significant health benefits. 70% of patients moved out of pre-diabetes following completion of a 3 month structured diet and exercise behaviour change programme. The attendance rate was an impressive 94.5%. Although originally a separately-funded programme, this approach to diabetes prevention has now become part of my service’s Package of Care we provide to referred patients at high risk of developing diabetes.
I live by the motto: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (attributed to Mahatma Gandhi) and strive every day to make both personal and service improvements.
Farhat Hamid is a highly accomplished senior manager with extensive experience gained in the NHS at national, regional and local level. With a track record of success in building high performing, dynamic and diverse teams and innovative services throughout 32 years in leadership and management roles in the NHS.
Public Health Nutritionist
Susan discusses her role as an antenatal dietitian and public health nutritionist including supporting pregnant women with a high BMI to make healthier lifestyle changes
One day a week I run The Healthy Lifestyles Pregnancy Clinic in NHS Lanarkshire. Together with a specialist midwife and specialist physiotherapist, we support pregnant women with a body mass index of 30 and above to make healthier lifestyle changes that can benefit both their health and wellbeing and that of their growing babies.
Before welcoming in our first patient, we meet at the clinic to talk through our patient list. We usually have a couple of new appointments where I discuss reasons for them wanting support with their diet and lifestyle. Their midwife has already informed them that poor diet and a high weight gain can pose risks for their pregnancy and growing baby, so they are usually really motivated to change. Together, we reflect on their daily diet and agree some realistic goals. We talk about nutrition for both mum and baby and discuss ideas for healthier changes such as including more fruit and vegetables, making healthier swaps for foods high in fat and sugar and also cutting down on caffeine, which can be harmful to the baby (NHS Choices: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/limit-caffeine-during-pregnancy.aspx?categoryid=54&subcategoryid=130).
After grabbing a quick cup of tea and a piece of fruit, I see patients that are returning for follow up. We discuss how they are getting on since their last appointment and I endeavour to answer their diet and lifestyle questions followed by a bit more goal setting.
After lunch with the team, we head off to another area for our afternoon clinic. There’s a small window of time before we start so I check my emails. The rest of the week, I am lead for Maternal and Infant Nutrition and manage several programmes. I work with many staff members and no two days are the same so there’s never a dull moment!
This afternoon I meet with women who have delivered their babies and are back to gain more support from the team to keep them on track with the healthy changes they made when pregnant. The ladies have had their 6-week post-delivery check-up, and most are seeking to lose weight. As well as enjoying seeing the mums back in clinic, it’s a bonus to see their gorgeous babies and I always come away from this session feeling very broody!
At the end of the day, the team and I discuss the nutrition and behaviour change training we will be delivering to midwives the following week – we plan some fun group work which helps to keep it interesting.
I also now catch up on some of my health improvement work. There is plenty to do as the latest breastfeeding figures are in and I have a few resources that need updating. Finally, I check my diary for the following day – it’s another action-packed day which begins with delivery of a presentation to student primary teachers at the local university followed by a meeting in the afternoon.
I head home after sorting out what I’ll need to be ready and prepared for what tomorrow will bring.
Having qualified in 1996 from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Susan Short has worked as a Dietitian in various posts within NHS Lanarkshire for over 20 years. She joined Health Improvement in 2009 specialising in maternal and infant nutrition and then in 2014, commenced work as a Public Health Nutritionist.