Specialist dietitian, Jane Ward tells us more about her role supporting patients with their nutritional needs
I’m Jane Ward and I am a specialist dietitian in the home enteral tube feeding team. I support patients with enteral tube feeds in their own homes and residential homes, and provide patients with individualised feed and fluid regimens to meet their nutritional requirements.
I completed my undergraduate degree in Food Science and Nutrition at Northumbria University and following this began my career at Northumbria as a dietitian assistant. This gave me an insight into what a dietitian’s job entailed and gave me the determination to then go on to and complete a post graduate degree in Dietetics at Leeds Beckett University. I have now worked as a dietitian for 7 years at Northumbria and I absolutely love it.
As dietitian’s we are used to carrying out face to face appointments and reviews in hospital and community settings, however, during the Covid-19 pandemic this had to drastically change. We have had to be innovative in our approach to reviewing community patients and started to use virtual consultations and different methods of communication including telephone calls and emails depending on our patients needs. During the pandemic we have continued to carry out essential visits only. We work closely with the nutrition nurses within the trust who have also continued to put patients’ needs first by providing excellent advice and tube care to minimise hospital admissions during this time.
Within our department we are currently undertaking research projects with feed companies in the hope that we will be able to offer our patients new products to improve their tolerance to feeds and improve their lifestyle. I have been provided with the opportunity to become the principle investigator for one of these studies which has allowed me to develop my skills even further.
As a dietitian I enjoy building a close rapport with patients and their families in the community and find it rewarding being able to troubleshoot any issues that they are having with their feeds to improve their symptoms. It is also pleasing to see patient’s enjoyment when we are able to reintroduce food and fluids orally and we are able to gradually wean them off their enteral feeds.
I am proud to work for Northumbria and I have been provided with lots of exciting opportunities over my career to develop as a dietitian and progress into leadership roles.