Debbie - Paediatric Dietitian
Debbie Lawford, Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust
I’ve always been passionate about food, training to be a chef initially in my career then progressing to dietetics later in life. I’ve always loved been able to help people to find the joy in eating good food and with the added benefit of it improving their health.
Giving people practical advice on how to do that and seeing how much it improves their health and relationship with food is fantastic.
I’ve been a dietitian for nearly 20 years and I didn’t become a dietitian until I was 32 yrs old!
I’ve done lots of jobs all of which help me be a better dietitian as I’ve met lots of different people from all walks of life.
I never knew what I wanted to do when I left school so I trained to be a chef as I enjoyed cooking and food but after 8 years in catering, including running my own business, I started my training to become a dietitian by going to back to university aged 27 years old. I worked part-time in various jobs to support myself whilst completing a degree part-time.
My first Dietitian post was at Salford Royal where I stayed for 16 years and worked in many areas of dietetics including hospital and community dietetics, health promotion within Sure Start, cardiac rehabilitation, and weight management including bariatric surgery. For the last 4 years of my time in Salford I went into management and became the dietetic manager.
I then felt I wanted to go back into a clinical setting to address work life balance as I had a young family and wanted to experience a new clinical area. Luckily, there was a paediatric dietitian job at the Royal Oldham Hospital.
My current role is the best role I’ve add so far! I work in a split post in paediatrics, firstly, on the paediatric ward seeing more acutely ill children for wide spectrum of diagnosis (e.g. allergies, babies who are 'failure-to-thrive' and needing a different milk or route of feeding, iron deficiency anaemia, and eating disorders).
My second role is in paediatric diabetes and with children diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I work with families from the start of their diagnosis in hospital, to home visits where we carry on the education around this condition, to outpatient MDT clinics with a nurse and consultant every 3 months until they are 18 years old. I get to develop a real bond and relationship with the children and their families. I see these children grow with their diabetes and how they adjust to living throughout their childhood - their diet plays a big role in that good management.
Being a dietitian I get a real sense of achievement helping a person and their family to understand their condition and diet with practical advice and achieving the best outcome.