Posted: 24.01.21 at 10:30 by The Editor
Kenilworth Nub News aims to be supportive to every element of the community from businesses, shops, and people, to charities, clubs and sports organisations.
We will be profiling some of these local businesses, and groups regularly over the coming weeks in a feature called 'Up Close With'.
The latest in this series is with local Dietitian Paula Gallon
Paula Gallon, who has worked as a Dietitian for over a decade, has recently set up her own freelance consultancy in Kenilworth.
Paula is diabetes specialist, but is also offering her services to other individuals who want a more personalised, body-positive approach.
Paula’s services allow her clients to make informed, individual decisions, as well as make sense of the barrage of information about diet and health that people receive.
We spoke to Paula about here journey to become a Dietitian and her plans for the future.
Paula, who was born and raised Croydon, moved to the West Midlands as a student, enrolling at the University of Warwick.
She then pursued a career in the IT industry which seems a million miles away from what she is doing now.
Her change of career came in the early 2000’s after realising that she wanted to do something to help people.
“People ask me why I changed career quite a lot, but it has been so many years now that I often find it quite hard to articulate,” says Paula.
“The IT industry was changing a lot at the time, but I wanted to do something that was more about working with people and helping them.
“I was very interested in people, and their difficulties with diabetes; helping them make healthy lifestyle choices seemed like a good thing to do.”
So Paula enrolled at university once again, completing a four-year degree at Coventry University in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2007.
Having qualified she was then certified by the Health and Care Professionals Council as a registered Dietitian.
Paula worked in the NHS for 13 years, 10 of which were spent as a diabetes specialist dietitian, most recently in Solihull.
However, in Autumn of 2020 Paula made the decision to start working freelance, and started scheduling video appointments for clients in Kenilworth, Warwickshire and the wider area.
Paula now focuses on two key areas: “I have set up doing video consultations for people with diabetes and also for people who are looking for some help or coaching on healthy living in a more body positive approach, from the healthy living point of view.
“When you have diabetes you get a lot of conflicting information, everybody has an opinion on what you should eat or what exercise you should do and what you shouldn’t do and people often feel quite frustrated.
“They’re worried about their health in the future, but they are also finding it quite difficult to give up the things that they enjoy.
“What I offer is the opportunity to have more time with a health care professional than they would usually have, it is about giving practical advice that actually fits in with people’s lifestyles, rather than a one size fits all approach.”
Paula focuses on helping her clients understand the science behind their condition, what that means for their diet, and how to then manage their diet around their medication and lifestyle.
She offers a far more personal, tailored service.
Aside from the extra time and the added information, Paula also offers her clients the opportunity to be part of their own decision making, rather than just telling them what they should be doing.
“People often think ‘I am going to see a Dietitian, they’re going to tell me what I cannot eat’ but Dietitians are there to answer people’s questions about what does and doesn’t actually work.
“It is also about giving an individual practical advice, about what fits in with their personal life, their family, what they enjoy, what activity they do, and working with them to make your own choice.”
Paula focuses on each client’s lifestyle, their habits, their preferences and their medical needs in order to make a clear and sustainable plan for their daily treatment.
“It is about finding out what they do and don’t like, their lifestyle, who they live with, what medication they take, so that we can actually make changes that fit in with their lifestyle.”
Decisions though, are made in discussion with the patient, not by just telling them what will work.
“If somebody is actually given the knowledge of what diabetes is, and why decisions are being made, then it gives them more confidence to make changes and actually form an effective partnership with their health professionals.
“Rather than being told what to do, they can actually be part of making decisions about their own health.
Paula was clear that her services should not be seen as an alternative to treatment on the NHS, they should be seen as complimentary, as an opportunity to ask further questions and have a personalised treatment plan put in place.
“I would encourage everyone to see a Dietitian on the NHS as part of their treatment. But it can often be hard to get all your questions answered as they often have smaller amounts of time.
“What I offer is complimentary to the NHS treatment, this is giving people extra time to answer all the questions they want answering and to have a personalised plan, it is about helping them to use the information the NHS has given them to make individual choices.
“It is giving them the information to give them the confidence to say ‘I fully understand the condition, I am the expert on me and these are the choices that I want to make’ so you’re actually helping that person make their own changes.”
To this end, Paula asks all her clients to complete a health questionnaire and, with their permission, contacts that individual’s NHS consultant to ensure that treatments are streamlined and integrated.
Having started business last Autumn amidst a global pandemic and more lockdowns, Paula has continued offering video appointments, but is hoping to expand in the coming months.
“I have found it extremely difficult, possibly because of lockdown, to raise awareness in the local community. Normally you would have a clinic or an office to work from and could also go out posting adverts and network locally.”
As Covid-19 restrictions ease Paula is looking to offer home visits, as well as a weekly clinic to allow patients to have easy access to a health care professional.
For now, she will continue to work remotely. If you would like any more information about her services, please follow this link to her website.