Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public-health level. They work with both healthy and unwell people. Uniquely, dietitians use the most up-to-date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.
Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law. Only those registered with the statutory regulator, the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) can use the title of 'dietitian'. They are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) is the professional body and Trade Union for dietitians and is also responsible for designing the curriculum for the profession.
Dietitians work in a variety of settings. They work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, government and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). Dietitians advise and influence food and health policy across the spectrum from government, to local communities and individuals.
What is a Nutritionist?
Nutritionists work in different roles including public health, health improvement, health policy, local and national government, in the private sector, Non Government Organisations (NGOs) and in education and research.
Unlike ‘Dietitian’, the title ‘Nutritionist’ is not protected by law in the UK, thus meaning that anyone is able to assume the title in a professional capacity, even if they do not possess adequate training and experience. However, only those who are registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) (regulated by the Association for Nutrition) are able to refer to themselves as a ‘Registered Nutritionist’ (RNutrs). RNutrs are not permitted by law to call themselves dietitians.
Where do the Dietitians of Derbyshire Healthcare work?
We currently have three Dietitians employed by the Trust working in the areas of:
- Adult and older peoples inpatient mental health services based at the Kingsway Site in Derby
- Adult community eating disorders services based at Unity Mill in Belper
- CAMHS community eating disorders services based at Temple House in Derby.
What type of patient do our Dietitians see?
Our Dietitians cover a variety of nutritional concerns that arise in the mental health population including, but certainly not limited to, the following:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Specialty diets
- Bone health
- Pressure sores/wound healing
- Chronic kidney disease
- Complications arising from medications and drug-nutrient interactions.
What do they do for our service users?
The Dietitians work on an individual level to assess nutritional needs (based on a review of medical and diet history, blood tests, weight and weight trends, and other physical measurements). They take all social, financial, physical and behavioural implications into account when working with the service user to develop a personalised nutritional care plan.
Dietitians then educate and support the service user to establish realistic short term and long term goals, guiding them with information and techniques to stay on track with their nutritional care plan. They provide ongoing support to both service users and their carers.
Current and future dietetic/nutrition service development
- Work closely with the hospital catering department to achieve the NHS Hospital Food Standards
- Provide nutritional training to other professionals within health and social care
- Contribute to the development and implementation of national guidelines and policies to improve the nutritional health of service users and staff.