What I do as a dietitian working with care homes

Abby Peat
August 30, 2023
5 min read

Curious about the role of a Primary Care Network (PCN) Dietitian, with a focus on care homes?

We chat with Abby Peat, a PCN dietitian specialising in supporting the care homes within her PCN. Abby works for a PCN in Shropshire, and has been in her role for the past 6 months.

Question: What is your main role?

My main role is mainly focused on Frailty.  I work with Care Homes across Southeast Shropshire supporting and delivering Food First training and reviewing Care Home residents at risk of malnutrition.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

My role varies and I cover a wide rural geographical area.  I can be in a GP practice advising a patient on Type 2 diabetes remission, speaking to a relative about food fortification and ideas for nourishing pureed meals and snacks.  Or balancing advice for someone who has type 2 diabetes, diverticular disease with a recent diagnosis of IBD.  Another day I could be remote working, on a Teams meeting with the PCN's Care Home Co-ordinator, or speaking with a Care Home manager about delivering Food First training.

What do you like about the role?

I love the variety in my role.  Being able to develop resources and use different ways of working to best support patients, care home residents, carers and family members is very rewarding.  I really enjoy working in partnership with colleagues from different disciplines to offer holistic care for mutual patients.  I'm really excited that we are now able to offer dietetic support closer to where patients live to help remove barriers to accessing services.  Working with the wider Primary Care Dietitians provides an incredibly valuable network of passionate dietitians with a variety of backgrounds, skills, and knowledge.  I'm enjoying different ways of working and using technology to provide more equitable care.  Gaining new skills and knowledge has been another positive about working in a PCN and one of the reasons why I love working as a dietitian.  The PCN has been very welcoming and supportive.  Whilst I'm challenged in my new role it's a positive challenge and I know I have support from other PCN colleagues and dietitians working in other PCNs.  I've started to do some joint work with other PCN dietitians working closely with Care Homes in their area.

What do you not like about the role?

Whilst I've embraced some new technology, it's also been a bit of a battle and not without a few glitches...

How is that you're doing impacting the lives of patients?

As PCN dietitians we're ideally placed to work with Primary Care colleagues to provide patient-centred care and help reduce GP workload.  Working with the Care Homes has the potential to help reduce the risk of malnutrition, improve hydration, help avoid associated complications and reduce hospital admissions.  Supporting patients with Type 2 Diabetes who are motivated to avoid starting medication will hopefully lead to improved outcomes for the individual, support autonomy and improve their overall well-being.  As the role becomes more established and the role of dietitians becomes better understood, we can make a difference individual's quality of life, reduce polypharmacy and help prevent further complications by reducing risks of associated long-term conditions.  I'm really keen to promote prevention and early intervention and to raise awareness of trauma-informed practice.

Thanks, Abby, for all your hardwork and help!

Questions about our roles or dietitians? Drop us an email at suyin.chia1@nhs.net.

Abby Peat
First Contact Dietitians (Care Homes), Primary Care Dietitians