#PeopleofPCH is a series that highlights the diverse stories of staff, residents, and families across Partners Community Health (PCH).
Say hello to Brijinder Nagpal, a Registered Dietitian at Camilla Care. For Dietitian’s Day, Brijinder shares her story:
“I lost my mother as a young adult when I was in India. I was a part-time, early career dietitian and was taking care of her in managing her diabetes. My mother relied on me to advocate for her health, but she passed away very quickly after she suffered from a stroke. This experience inspired a major shift in my view of the profession, and encouraged me to pursue dietetics full time by migrating to Canada in 2006 and expanding on my education. While caring for my mother, I developed an even stronger love for the field, and it was also what eventually led me to a career in geriatrics. What started out as simply a job, quickly turned into my passion.
When I came to Canada, I started volunteering in the kitchen at Camilla Care in 2007, when it was formerly known as Chelsea Park. Then, I went on to complete the Internationally Educated Dietitians Preregistration Program (IDPP) at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) later in 2007, and started working full time as a dietitian in 2009. When I officially joined the Camilla team as a registered dietitian in 2014, I never thought I would have continued my career in the same kitchen at the same site where I started – it’s amazing.
Now at Camilla, I work with the Dietary Services team at Partners Community Health to ensure residents are provided with nutritiously adequate meals so that their health status is maintained and that they can live their life to the fullest. My goal is to bring pleasure to residents through their diet while also monitoring how food impacts their nutritional health.
For me, every day is different. I work with the nursing team to discuss any concerns and risks related to residents’ eating and drinking, such as problems with swallowing, inability to chew food, and decreasing appetite. I also visit with residents to review their preferences and make plans that align with what they enjoy, or their religion and beliefs.
The best part of my day is whenever I have an ‘aha’ moment. Seeing a resident smile after I introduced an intervention to help improve their experience with food – that’s my favourite part of the job.
Recently, we had to change the diet for one resident from minced foods which are soft in texture and easy to chew, to puree foods which are prepared using a blender or food processor, because they were having trouble eating. After an assessment to determine if the resident was strong enough, we were able to transition them back to real food. You can’t imagine how happy they were to have recovered and returned to their normal routine. It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re able to work as a team to help residents find pleasure in food again.
Working at Partners Community Health you see the full spectrum of life as each resident goes through their journey. To those considering a career as a dietitian in a long-term care home, I want to say: bring as much love, joy and pleasure as you can through food to this population. You won’t be disappointed.”