A day in the life: Jackie Freeman, Senior Dietitian, Diabetes and Nutrition Services

4 Sep 2017 Max Hickling
Jackie Freeman, Senior Dietitian, with patient Gurmit


This morning I’m up early to get children ready for school and tackle the Bristol traffic on the way to the clinic.

I check emails at the start of the day to prioritise anything I need to fit in that week, go through referrals to the service to make sure they are appropriate, and see who is attending the clinic. Many of my clinics are in the inner city so I have a higher proportion of patients with different cultures, languages and backgrounds. This means I have to consider their belief systems, eating habits and cooking skills in my advice, often with the help of a translator or a worker from Health Links, our language support and advocacy service.

The people I meet are dealing with their daily life’s challenges as well as trying to manage their health condition as best they can. I often have to think quite creatively and tailor my approach and communication methods for each individual patient, to help them put the evidence-based nutritional information into practice.

In between patients, I review a patient’s food diary and answer an email query from a practice nurse. Before lunch with my colleagues, I catch up with another dietitian to review one of our many teaching sessions to Bristol Community Health nursing staff to ensure that it has included the most up to date nutrition and dietetic evidence.

The afternoon is spent teaching on our carbohydrate counting course for people with type 1 diabetes. This practical session helps patients understand the factors that affect their diabetes control and how to measure the carbohydrates in their food and calculate how much insulin they need. Seeing the confidence it gives people to manage their diabetes makes this session one of my favourites.

The end of the day involves a quick discussion with a diabetes specialist nurse about how best to manage a patient’s diabetes control – we consider not just the insulin he is taking but also his work/home patterns, activity levels and alcohol intake. Together we work out a plan to discuss with the patient at his appointment tomorrow.

I try and leave on time ready to start my next job – feeding the family, taking my girls to their taekwondo training or helping with homework!

About the Diabetes and Nutrition Services (DANS)
Our dietitians provide nutrition advice to people with diabetes but also other conditions such as first line irritable bowel syndrome, anaemia, malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies. They are available to see patients who live in the north, inner city and east of Bristol.

We accept self-referrals or referrals from any healthcare professional to this service. Call 0117 959 8970 if you would like to self-refer. University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust provides services to patients in the west and the south of the city. Find out more about the team at briscomhealth.org.uk/our-services/diabetes-nutrition-service