We asked Megan Jones, the Dietetic Assistant and Dietetic Support Worker representative on our Board of Directors, to reflect on a “day in the life” of her role as both a Dietetic Assistant and on the BDA Board.
I was appointed for the role of Dietetic Assistant at East Cheshire NHS Trust in 2019. The year before, I had graduated with a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and I was looking for an opportunity to use my nutritional knowledge within my next job. The Dietetic Assistant role appealed to me as it allowed me to work face-to-face with patients without going back to university to retrain as a Dietitian. I also liked that there was the opportunity to work in health promotion as I felt the role combined my experience and passion for nutrition well.
As a Dietetic Assistant within the acute (hospital) team, I undertake a range of clinical duties, health promotion and awareness activities and administrative tasks, assisting the Dietitians in their day-to-day roles. I am always very supported within my role and work within a great team.
Each morning, I check patient movements (such as discharges and ward moves), add new referrals to the online patient system and update the dietitians on their caseloads for the day. I will also update our ‘special diet list’ with any ward moves/discharges to ensure the dietary information is clear for our catering department.
A large part of my day is based in the hospital completing nutritional follow up reviews of patients already known to the dietitians. The assessments include checking food record charts, checking bloods, monitoring BM’s (diabetes) and patient weights. Following this, I discuss a plan with the Dietitian and then provide basic dietary advice to both staff and the patient. Although the wards can sometimes feel quite overwhelming, this is my favourite part of the job as this is where I feel I make the most impact on patient care. It is also where I get to use my nutritional knowledge the most and enjoy deciding on the most appropriate plan for the patient. My favourite ward is care of the elderly and dementia. Training and work with the dementia nurse have allowed me develop my skills to be more engaging with these patients and I feel they really appreciate my support. It is very rewarding.
Once finishing ward reviews, I will spend some time in the office writing up patient notes and completing discharge calls at the request of the Dietitian. This may include speaking with care homes, carers or relatives, writing prescription requests for the GP, or completing referrals to other services.
Since starting in my role, I have been able to work on dietetic projects. These have included starting cow’s milk protein allergy group sessions for parents and their new babies, delivering staff training on MUST screening and changing the way we fortify patient meals. I love how my job can vary from training and projects to being based on the wards. I really feel like it is the best of both worlds as both aspects of the role challenge me in different ways.
More recently, I’ve joined the Board of Directors with the BDA as Dietetic Support Worker Representative. On the board, I represent the Dietetic Support Worker workforce and ensure our views are equally and fairly represented at the highest level within the Association.
One of the projects I am currently working on is improving development pathways for support workers. This exciting opportunity has allowed me to work with different teams and see the all the work that goes into developing these strategies. Before I became a Dietetic Assistant, I wouldn’t have known about any opportunities like this and I feel like the role has opened doors for me!