How did you find stepping into being involved in BAPEN?
To be honest, I felt quite unprepared and anxious about taking up a place on the BAPEN council as Chair of the NNNG. Although I had been on the NNNG committee for several years, I didn’t feel totally sure of the expectations BAPEN had for the role, or what mine were of BAPEN!
What made you apply for your role of Chair of NNNG?
Having been a committee member for a while, I felt eager to take on the challenge of leading the group. The NNNG had been a big part of my development and support as a lone nutrition nurse, and I felt passionate that this aspect should remain for others. I also wanted to help to continue to raise the profile of nutrition and the role of the nurse within this. All of this ultimately has the patient and their experiences at the core, and it is only by listening to our patients can we really say that we are providing good nutritional care.
What sort of jobs are you involved in as NNNG Chair?
Quite a range! From last minute opinions on guidance to clinical queries that come into the group, representing the NNNG on national pieces of work, working with other professional and patient groups. More recently we have undertaken a huge piece of work with the launch of the new website and forum with the aim of providing a greater range of resources for members to enable the NNNG to continue its work as well as looking to the future and the sustainability of the group. Then there is the day-to-day running’s of the group from ensuring we comply with the charities commission, that the accounts are in order etc. None of this I do alone, the committee very much works together which is essential. We all have very busy day jobs, but by being part of the NNNG and the committee this enhances this and provides the extra drive to continue working towards good nutritional care and collaborative working.
What have you most enjoyed working on in your role so far?
I always find it inspiring to meet new people, hear about what they are doing, whether this is a patient or professional colleague. Working with the NNNG means that I am in a fortunate position to be able to do this perhaps more than I would. Being involved in projects and contributing, even if just on a small scale gives a sense of satisfaction, particularly when you see a difference to patient care.
How do you juggle your BAPEN role alongside your work as well?
It’s a challenge! I think anyone who knows me would say I use every last minute of the deadline! You need to have support, not just in work but also at home. Home life is busy with 2 children a dog and a husband, but they are very supportive of what I do and are very used to me cooking dinner and answering emails!
Why do you think people should get involved with BAPEN?
I remember going to my first BAPEN conference as a new nutrition nurse and feeling utterly out of my depth, so much so I didn’t return to a conference for several years! However, they have developed into a more inclusive organisation over the years and there is a wealth of experience, knowledge, and support to tap in to. Whether you work directly in the field of nutrition and nutrition support, or it is an interest you have, the word needs to spread about the place nutrition has within health and ill health, recovery and in end-of-life care. In that sentence alone you can see its reach and so you could strongly argue that everyone should have an interest. The reality of that is of course very different, but at least recognising its place and value in your patient’s journey is important and referring to those who can help. By being involved in BAPEN you can help spread the word and keep up to date with current guidance. As a nurse or AHP, by joining the NNNG you will have access to the professional forum and best practice guidance as well as the opportunity to join BAPEN for free. What’s not to like!