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Hannah Plant - Home Enteral Tube Feeding

Hannah Plant, Central Cheshire Integrated Care Partnership

I was brought up in a family that was from an NHS background, therefore have always felt strongly about our health care system and how vital it is that is ran well by all healthcare professionals involved. I had always wanted to be in a medical and caring profession. I am a sociable person who wanted to ensure my occupation was face-to-face with patient and I combined this with the fact I have always been passionate about food and living a healthy lifestyle, deciding that dietetics was the profession for me!

My journey through the start of my career has been a unique one! The COVID-19 pandemic began during my final student placement. I was deemed as competent during this placement becoming a registered dietitian earlier than expected.

I was fortunate that I had been hired by the trust hosting this placement in my first band 5 rotational role. I went straight from qualifying early during the pandemic to working in my new band 5 role to continue developing all my skills without any break between student and working life.

I started as a junior dietitian on rotation which was a relatively new concept to community dietetics. Community dietetics had always been where I had wanted to go in my career from my very first placement. I am extremely lucky that I was given this career opportunity and soon progressed to a senior (Band 6) development post as a Home Enteral Tube Feeding (HETF) Dietitian. This allowed me to gain more experience with tube feeding and build my knowledge and expertise with more complex cases.

Currently I carry out dietetic assessments during domiciliary (home) visits for people who may have difficulty leaving their homes to attend a hospital clinic, or who need care at home. I am a member of a team of community dietitians where we all cover our own separate patch in the Cheshire area. We carry out assessments for a range of different patient needs, for example, nutrition support, weight management, wound healing and diabetes.

I also have my own caseload of individuals who require home enteral tube feeding. This is where various different feeding tubes provide nutrition for patients with diseases that cause them to require enteral feeding support. For example, that could be due to medical conditions such as dysphagia, neuromuscular disease, cancer, surgery or stroke.

Different feeding tubes I work with out in the community include:

  • Nasogastric tubes;
  • Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy tubes;
  • Radiologically-inserted, balloon-retained gastrostomy tubes.

HETF-trained dietitians also provide training to patients, carers and day-care centres in the use and care of these feeding tubes.

I also run a General Practice dietetic clinic where a range of referrals are received. This can include assessments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticular disease, coeliac disease, paediatrics, diabetes and fussy eaters.

From my point of view the best thing about being a dietitian is the direct contact with patients, as this allows you to see the impact on people’s lives that your care provides.

Due to the range of different patients you get to see for different reasons, plus troubleshooting feeding tube emergencies, our job role is always interesting, challenging and rarely the same from one day to the next.

As a dietitian we play a significant role in the multidisciplinary team - it is great to work alongside other health care professionals providing different input directly linked with your own care plan. For example, the work that speech and language therapy do for textured diets greatly influences our input as dietitians.

It is also amazing that within our profession there is no “average” dietitian. Meaning that there are so many different opportunities for specialising in a particular field of dietetics depending on your own personal interests. For example, dietetics can range from: renal, paediatrics, eating disorders, prison care and parenteral nutrition just to highlight a few.

Hannah Plant
If you are interested in the relationship between diet and health, whilst also being passionate about caring for people, then this could be the profession for you!