Western Sydney dietitians keeping patient’s culture at the centre of their service

Blacktown Hospital dietitians enjoying an afternoon tea on Dietitians Day, 26 March

It’s no secret that food plays a key role in people’s physical and mental wellbeing and is an important part of people’s cultural identity – particularly in the state’s multicultural melting pot of western Sydney.

Everyone’s plate looks different in the west and the team of dietitians in the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) knows first-hand there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to a healthy diet.

“Many people underestimate the power of nutrition. We use it to help them manage their health conditions,” says Blacktown Hospital dietitian Alice Meroni, who was born and raised in Italy.

Blacktown Hospital dietitian Alice Meroni

“In Italy, the food culture is not as diverse, so every day at Blacktown Hospital is an opportunity for me to learn something new and apply it in my work with patients.

“For some people, food is the centre of their cultural identity and telling them that the new diet might affect this crucial part of life is not always easy.

Trained in medical nutrition therapy, dietitians translate scientific nutrition information into dietary advice.

These consultations involve a lot of education, encouragement and counselling to ensure a patient’s quality of life is not impacted by new restrictions.

“Despite the common belief that a dietitian mostly helps people to lose weight, there is so much more to our profession. Working in a hospital we also deal a lot with patients with malnutrition, or other diagnoses that require a modified diet,” Alice said.

“It’s important to deliver the information sensitively and listen to patients’ concerns. We keep patient’s culture at the heart of our service.

“We want the best outcomes for our patients, so we put time for research and try to come up with alternatives and substitutions.

“Often we educate other family members too, to make sure when the patient is discharged, they will continue getting the support needed for their recovery.”

Blacktown Hospital dietitians (front to back) Yvonne Li, Sylvia Wei, Zoe Flick and Alice Meroni

Friday March 26 is Dietitians Day. WSLHD employs more than 50 th, working in various areas of the hospitals – diabetes, weight management, gastroenterology, hepatology, intensive care, oncology, bone marrow transplant, surgery, respiratory, cystic fibrosis, aged care, eating disorders, inherited genetic metabolic disorders and food allergies.

 Happy Dietitians Day to all the brilliant dietitians of western Sydney!