Wendy-Ling Relph

What made you apply for your roles of Membership Officer and NGSIG Chair (Nasogastric Special Interest Group)?

I applied for the role of Membership Officer because there was a need to understand the membership of BAPEN. It is so important to know who our members actually are, where they work, what area of the country they are from and what aspects of nutritional care they are particularly interested or expert in. This enables us to ensure BAPEN’s activities are appropriately targeted and that we are acting in the interest of our members and ultimately our patients.

My role as Membership Officer came first, and it was from Conference discussions that we realised we wanted to develop a team around the area of patients with Nasogastric Feeding Tubes. I was interested in the role of NGSIG Chair because, as a nutrition nurse, I am passionate about NG tube safety, making sure that staff have the knowledge that they should have and that patients are kept safe. As with everything that’s BAPEN related, it’s multidisciplinary. I, like most nutrition nurses across the country, have experienced a few Never Events in my Trust; this contributed to my desire to make sure that we highlight the risks, share best practice, and I wanted to lead on that to make sure we’re all headed in the same direction and working closely with the national governing bodies.

What sort of jobs are you involved in as a BAPEN Membership Officer?

In my role as BAPEN Membership Officer, my focus is around looking at who BAPEN is, what the membership consists of, and how we can use that understanding to guide us towards understanding the core aims of BAPEN. BAPEN and its membership is a two-way street; it’s not just what members can do for us, it’s also what BAPEN can do for our members. It’s really key to understand that. We may not have it exactly right yet, but we have progressed a lot over the years.

How does NGSIG as a special interest group of BAPEN work with the wider organisation?

NGSIG have representation from PENG, NNNG, and BAPEN Medical and so those members bring the thoughts of their core groups to the table. NGSIG also feeds back to BAPEN; I report into Council meetings quarterly and we are involved with the Conference agenda. Crucially, NGSIG are a really key part of patient safety with regards to nutrition and this is a priority for the whole organisation, not just our group.

What have you most enjoyed working on in your role so far?

In my role as membership officer, I have been a part of the conversations which resulted in providing free BAPEN membership to those in the Core Groups, which has enabled us to really expand our numbers and our collective voice.

I also really enjoy working with the multidisciplinary groups within BAPEN. A particular highlight was developing and publishing the NGSIG safety guidance ensuring we share best practice and influence care across the country. As the pandemic started, this resulted in a lot of work for us to develop more guidance for clinical staff in the form of COVID-19 resources, always with the aim of maintaining patient safety. This also helped to further raise the profile of BAPEN within nutritional care which was brilliant.

How do you juggle your two BAPEN roles alongside your work as well?

It’s not a walk in the park! I sometimes feel that I am not doing justice to the role, because my priority is with the clinical work in my day job. However, it is definitely manageable and there is a lot of support from the wider BAPEN team.

Why do you think people should get involved with BAPEN?

Nutritional care is fundamental to patient care, and we need to all be working together in a multidisciplinary way to achieve this. That is exactly what BAPEN does. The more people who get involved, the more focus we can put on nutritional care and from this the greater influence we have and the greater the body of knowledge will become.

It is also really fun! You really get to know people – pandemic aside, the opportunity to meet up with people in different areas of work, based in different areas of the country, but all with the same objective is great. The social aspect is definitely there.

I know some people must look at the organisation’s role and think gosh I could never do that! But I would reassure them that we are all willing for people to ask us more questions about our roles. So, if anyone is interested in being involved with NGSIG or membership, I am more than willing to discuss it with them and help them move into those areas. As a long time member of the NNNG, I am particularly passionate about the role of nursing within the nutrition MDT and how we can support nursing colleagues to become involved and influence nutritional care both within and outside their organisations.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who wants to provide feedback on any of these aspects or wants to get more involved.