What do parenteral and enteral dietitians do?


Specialist area:

Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

What parenteral and enteral dietitians help with:

Parenteral and enteral dietitians support you if you can't get the nutrition you need safely through normal eating. They look at how you are and how much you are eating to work out what you need. They can then prescribe the best course of action, such as:

  1. changing the food you eat by adding more protein, energy or other nutrients
  2. giving you special oral nutritional supplements to eat or drink with your normal meals
  3. starting you on a special liquid diet given through a tube in your nose, stomach or intestines. This may be best if you can't swallow safely without choking
  4. starting you on a special feed straight into your bloodstream. This may be best if your digestive system is not working

Who do parenteral and enteral dietitians help?

A parenteral and enteral dietitian may be able to support you if you:

  • are an older person with a small appetite
  • have a child or baby with difficulty eating or digesting food
  • have had a stroke and can't swallow without a risk of choking
  • are in Critical Care and unconscious
  • have a digestive disorder e.g. Crohn’s disease
  • have a neurological disease e.g. Motor Neurone disease
  • have cancer

How do parenteral and enteral dietitians work?

Your parenteral and enteral dietitian will talk to you, and any family or carers, to assess what you are currently eating. They will also talk to your doctors, nurses and speech and language therapists. They will then take measurements and refer to blood test results to understand how well-nourished you are. Then they can work out what nutrition you need.

Your parenteral and enteral dietitian will then work with you and your team to decide the best course of action. They will also give you a prescription for any supplements or feeds you need.

Once you are set up, they will track your progress and change your prescription if needed.

Where do parenteral and enteral dietitians work?

You are most likely to see your parenteral and enteral dietitian in a hospital as part of your Nutrition Support Team. You may also see them in community teams if you need help living in your own home on your tube feed or parenteral feed.

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