What we do
The Trust's dietitians work within the hospital, in the community and across all age groups to improve diet and nutrition.
A patient's nutritional health (and risk of malnutrition) will be assessed when they are admitted to hospital. If there are concerns about a patient's level of nourishment or ability to eat, they will be referred to a dietitian.
The dietitian's response will depend on each individual case. They will assess the patient's need, and may offer healthy eating advice, develop a new diet regime or carry out further tests.
Their expertise is particularly helpful for patients who are unable to eat solid food and so may need a very soft diet or a liquid diet via a tube into their gut or their bloodstream.
The dietitian is part of a multi-professional team of specialists who treat patients. This team will often include a speech and language therapist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a specialist nurse.
The Trust's dietitians help design the food menus that are offered to around 3,000 patients and staff every day.
They work with catering staff to ensure that the meals are nutritious, meet government guidelines and, most importantly, are appetising to eat. They also help decide what food will be offered to people with special dietary requirements, such as for diabetes or those needing extra nutrition following a surgical operation.
In the community
Dietitians hold regular clinics around Southampton for patients who have been referred by their GP. They may give advice on feeding problems among children, nutrition in pregnancy, diabetes or obesity.
Group sessions are also held, often jointly with other members of the multi-professional team. These allow people to learn more about managing their condition on a day-to-day basis and to share practical ideas about their diet and its challenges.
Research and training
The Trust's dietitians are also involved in:
- training and educating medical, nursing and dietetic students
- running courses for health professionals, voluntary groups and private organisations on topics such as child feeding, eating on a low income and special diets (these may involve a fee)
- developing resources to support general dietary education and specific advice
- research, development and auditing of nutrition related policies and guidance.