Still supporting our weight loss patients
Communicating with her weight loss patients during the coronavirus outbreak is more important than ever, says Heather, Specialist Bariatric Dietitian at The Hospital Group
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the world as we know it, and nowhere more so than in healthcare provision. While the private healthcare industry, including Transform Hospital Group, has rallied round to support the NHS through the use of hospitals, equipment and staff, they have also prioritised the support and care of their own patients at this uncertain time.
Heather has worked for Transform Hospital Group since 2011, joining straight from university. While her role working with weight loss surgery patients has evolved during the years, no one could have foreseen how much it would change again in the last few weeks.
Heather explains, “As well as being a Specialist Bariatric Dietitian, I’m also a Consulting Practitioner, so I carry out patient consultations prior to them meeting their surgeon and having their surgery.
“Initially, I’ll talk through their medical history and make sure that they meet all the admission criteria for bariatric surgery. I also go over details like their diet and their eating habits. I explain each procedure available to them, and it’s so important that our patients fully understand what each procedure involves.”
Once the patient has left hospital following their procedure, Heather has frequent communication with them to give dietetic advice. “Aftercare periods can vary depending on the treatment the patient has had, but throughout that time I am available to provide advice and guidance,” she says. “For example, I’d make quite a number of calls to a bypass or a sleeve patient in their first 6 months, as during that time they’re getting used to the changes it brings. I’m there to answer their questions and help them achieve great results.”
Heather is clear about what she enjoys most in her role. “It’s providing our patients with the support they need,” she smiles. “There is such a difference in them before and after surgery. They’re so much happier afterwards, and knowing that the advice and information I give them can help to boost their self-confidence is fantastic.”
The impact of COVID-19 and social distancing measures has meant that Heather’s seen big changes in her day to day role – for the time being, anyway. She says, “Obviously we’re not able to meet patients face to face just now, but with everything that’s going on they understandably need more support from us. As a business, we’ve adapted our advice to patients so that we can accommodate the changes we’re all experiencing.
“Planning food and exercise during lockdown can be challenging for people, and so I’ve been helping to suggest alternatives if patients can’t get fresh fruit and vegetables, for example. They can tell me what they have in their fridge or kitchen cupboards, and I can suggest ways that the food can be used to keep their journey on track.”
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Heather is now working from home. She admits that she misses the buzz of the Glasgow clinic, where she is based. “I enjoy seeing our patients, and I love being part of the team there. Working by yourself is very different. I have children aged 6 and 4, and I’m lucky that my husband is at home all day just now and can entertain them while I’m working!”
Heather adds, “Patients need extra encouragement and reassurance at this time, but I’ve noticed that they value the support I give more than ever. It’s a privilege to be able to make sure our patients get the most out of what is an uncertain time for all of us.”