A Day In The Life Of A Community Dietitian

Alexandra Rees

Well, as I am a dietitian, I suppose I should start this blog off with what I have for breakfast to set me up for my day of work. In the Summer I am a Greek yoghurt, fruit and granola girl, however in the Winter I need a hot bowl of porridge with raspberries and honey before I get in the car to go to the office.

Alexandra (Lexi) Rees - Community Dietitian

Alexandra (Lexi) Rees - Community Dietitian

I like to get into the office early and so try to start at 8.30am. This gives me the chance to have checked my emails and my diary whilst drinking my coffee before the other members of the community team come in. If I have paperwork to do, such as finishing writing up patient cards or writing letters/prescription requests then I will do this after checking my emails. If I’m all up to date then I will spend an hour or two working on some of my project work, such as updating diet sheets, writing presentations for nutrition talks, or auditing our current practice to ensure we are providing the best patient-centred care possible.

Once a week we get together as a community team in the morning to look through all of the community referrals that we have received over the past week. As a team we decide who the most urgent referrals to be seen are, who needs a home visit and who can be booked into an outpatient clinic or receive a telephone call. We will also discuss and decide if any of the referrals are inappropriate or have key information missing, and these will be sent back to the referrers. If other members of our dietetic team would be better placed to offer the person advice and support then we pass the referral onto them. 

On the days when we don’t triage our referrals, I tend to head out on my visits by mid-morning. I mainly cover care homes and so the staff are always busy getting the residents up, dressed and giving them breakfast until mid-morning. When I go out to a care home I like to talk to the staff and the residents that have been referred to gain a complete picture about what has been going on with that person’s dietary intake and what I can advise to help improve it. As well as talking to the residents and the staff, I will also look at food charts and medication charts as well as possibly the care home menus. This ensures that the advice and practical changes we agree to try will be appropriate and tailored to that person’s nutritional needs. 

Also, by arriving mid to late morning, I can often then observe the lunchtime whilst I write up my dietetic notes and document in the resident’s care plans. This gives me an insight into the environment of a mealtime which have a big impact on someone’s nutritional intake. 

I try to group my visits in the same area so that once I have finished in one care home I can move onto the next one or do a home visit for someone in their own home in the same area. 

Once I have completed all of my visits that I have scheduled for that day, I’ll return to my office. I have to log all the people I have seen and what advice I have given them. I also have to update my caseload spreadsheet so that I know when I need to go to see them again or if I have discharged them. I also check my emails again as well as check in case I have received any phone calls which I need to respond to. Depending on what time I have left I will start to write any prescription requests or letters and put the cards ready to file. 

I ensure that anything urgent has been dealt with, e.g. a phone message, prescription requests, email queries. Then I log off for the day and return home to cook supper and walk the dog.