Celebrating Allied Health Professionals


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SUPPLEMENT TO THE FREE PRESS • SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2022 7 Celebrating Allied Health Professionals By Lindsey Enns H ave you ever wondered why some foods give you energy while others make you crash? If you've ever been curious about the science behind nutrition, or what foods you should be eating to feel your best both mentally and physically, con- sider consulting a registered dieti- tian. "We're not the food police so we're really trying to correct that misconception about our role," says Chantal Morais, a regis- tered dietitian in Prairie Mountain Health. "Dietitians work across the health system, providing nutrition advice and recommendations in a variety of settings ranging from health promotion and prevention of chronic diseases to personal care homes and critical care units." Dietitians have long been im- portant members of health-care teams working across Manitoba, but the importance of their role was heightened during the pan- demic with the need for appropri- ate nutrition and hydration policies in all settings. "We know that a good baseline nutrition and being well-nourished can help keep people out of hos- pital, or if they are admitted for care, it's for a shorter time," Morais says. "When someone is malnour- ished, they are at higher risk of be- ing readmitted to hospital, so our work in supporting patients to de- velop the knowledge and tools to stay nourished decreases recovery time and chances of readmission." For Morais, each work day is a little different. As a dietitian work- ing in health promotion, she works with community groups and orga- nizations to promote healthy eat- ing with a special focus on nutri- tion, food skills education and healthy food environments. With the cost of food on the rise, food security is top of mind for many groups and organizations that Mo- rais works with. "Because we work with diverse groups of people and communi- ties, we need to be caring, com- passionate and aware of social justice and the right to food secu- rity," adds Morais, who also leads various sessions for First Nations communities and health-care pro- viders, and facilitates regional pro- grams including Strive to Thrive and Craving Change. "People are looking for ideas for foods that are culturally relevant to them and are nourishing to their mind, body and spirit within their current budget. We can help with that." Passionate about her work and her profession, Morais gets ex- cited when talking about bringing communities and community part- ners together to improve and sup- port the health and well-being of a community. "Working with various public health nurses and getting to visit different communities, there's a lot of variety of work that I get to do," Morais says. "Seeing communities come together to develop wellness activities and keeping that mo- mentum going in that community is what makes my job worthwhile. Supporting the health and well-be- ing of a community is so reward- ing." Morais comes by her commit- ment to community and her pas- sion for food and nutrition natu- rally. Her family operates a small cattle farm located between Ha- miota and Virden, and while she doesn't refer to herself as a farmer, she credits living on a farm with giving her an appreciation of the role of agriculture and its impor- tance to the culture of rural com- munities. "Having an understanding of agriculture, the largest industry in southwestern Manitoba, helps me better relate to the communities and people I work with on a daily basis," Morais says. Morais has worked in rural Mani- toba since completing her studies at the University of Manitoba. She worked first in Virden alongside a clinical team and then, after com- pleting a master's in public health, transitioned to her current role supporting health promotion in Ha- miota and surrounding area. "There are lots of opportunities and so much you can do as a dieti- tian," Morais says. "Working rurally, I'm part of a really great interpro- fessional team and a great team of dietitians. I know rural jobs can be a bit lonely, especially if you are the only dietitian at a particu- lar site, but there's a whole team to stay connected with and always somebody that you can consult with. There's always support here." Allied health providers like di- etitians work in every community, across the full continuum of care needs and across the entire lifes- pan of the patients they serve. "Our allied health providers are always there," Morais says. "We're often working behind the scenes in hospital, long-term care facilities, primary care facilities and in pre- vention. If you're interested in nu- trition, there's so much opportunity to grow and mould your practice to align with your interests and what you're passionate about." S UPPLIED PHOTO Chantal Morais, a registered dietitian in Prairie Mountain Health S UPPLIED PHOTO Chantal Morais (centre and wearing a striped shirt) stands in the Neepawa Arts Forward kitchen with Immigrant Settlement Services' Cooking in Canada program preparing for a meal with newcomers. Craving culturally relevant food DIETITIANS DELIVER SUPPORT TO PERSONAL CARE HOMES IN PMH Because we work with diverse groups of people and communities, we need to be caring, compassionate and aware of social justice and the right to food security." — Chantal Morais, a registered dietitian in Prairie Mountain Health Chantal Morais (right) prepares food with a participant in the Cooking in Canada program partnered with Neepawa and Area Immigrant Settlement Services. Chantal Morais (far right) works in partnership with a colleague and students to gain insight into the healthy eating issues and needs in the community of Neepawa. Chantal Morais' husband, daughter and son pet a calf on their family-operated farm located between Hamiota and Virden. S UPPLIED PHOTOS

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