Posted by: ayrshirehealth | March 23, 2016

Dream it, believe it, achieve it by Pamela Lindsay

Bariatric Patient Conference

Early 2015 NHS Ayrshire & Arran eNews had a call for anyone wishing to submit an Endowment bid. I had been thinking hard about how we could motivate people longer term following weight loss or bariatric surgery. Dream itI contacted a few people who had bariatric surgery and asked them what they thought about us working together to plan a patient conference.

We decided to give it a go!

I received the email to say that the bid for £2000.00 for the event had been successful. I was delighted but at the same time quite daunted as I had never planned such a big event. My first job was to get a group of patients together for a meeting.

Recipe success

I asked 12 patients and Kevin McMahon, Bariatric Nurse, Gillian Dick, Dietetic Health Promotion Practitioner, and Lee Rogerson, Secretary. University Hospital AyrWe had a very good turnout for the first meeting which was on Tuesday 15th May 2015 at 2.30pm, Skills Lab, Macdonald Education Centre, University Hospital Ayr. We had six monthly meetings until the event.

The event was to celebrate the success of the patients that have gone through weight loss surgery over the last few years in Ayrshire and Arran (since 2008).

Everyone agreed the event should be called ‘Recipe for success’Recipe for success 2This would tie in with the health theme as well as the new recipe book for pre and post bariatric surgical patients called Recipes for Life.

It was agreed that the conference should be a half day held around the beginning of November 2015.

We decided it would feel more special if the event was in a Hotel. The patients chose Gailes Hotel, Irvine.

The recipe

The group came to the decision that patients and a friend or family member would be invited to the conference. It was suggested that clinicians involved in the bariatric patient pathway would be invited. This would include GP’s.Recipe for success

We discussed having six stalls:  Exercise on Referral in the 3 areas, The Recipe Book (Health Promotion Dietetic Team), Jump Start (young person’s weight management programme) and beauty/reflexology stall. Gillian Dick would bring 2 days of meals prepared (from the Recipes for life -Bariatric Recipe Book) in appropriate portions.

It was thought that patient photographs and quotes of their feelings could be projected onto the screens within the function suite for people to view throughout the afternoon tea break.

The patients had a fundraising night and made over £400 to help with room decorations and patient packs.

400 invitations were printed and included a Barcode that patients could scan on a smart phone (Mii tuu) to leave comments and suggestions regarding the day or about their story.

The conference choir

I did not envisage the level of Communication required between everyone involved in the Conference from presenters to planning group.

300 invites were sent out to patients and we had a few responses but not a lot. I then decided we would need to phone everyone who had not responded. This increased our numbers. An explanation helped to encourage them to attend.

A Clinical Psychologist in London, Dr Jennifer Nash who specialises in working with people with Emotional eating problems agreed to make a short film to show at the event.Recipe agenda

We also decided inspirational music should be a big part of the event and should be played when people were arriving and during the tea break.

I asked via the patient Facebook page if there was anyone who would be willing to sing. I was amazed by the response and before long we had a choir and they wanted to sing ‘The Climb’ by Miley Cyrus.

The following programme was sent to all who confirmed they wanted to attend.

Reflection on learning

Below are some of the things I learned from planning this event:

  • Involve patients
  • Meet at least monthly for six months before and also keep in touch via email and phone
  • Some people may change their mind about telling their experience
  • Time meetings before the support group encouraged good attendance
  • Contact many venues and draw up a comparison chart
  • Invite a small core of patients that are willing to help plan the event
  • Keep notes and prepare items to discuss at meetings
  • Ask a graphic designer to design the invite and programme
  • Invite speakers to come to the meetings to give a taste of what they will be talking about at the event.
  • Arrange a suitable venue and invite speakers to come for a run through
  • Go to the Hotel venue and trial all equipment
  • Use appropriate background music at breaks and on arrival

125 patients, friends/family and staff attended the event on Thursday 12th November 2015 from 12.30-5pm at Gailes Hotel, Irvine and the following are examples of the feedback received:

  • ‘Patients decided what they wanted and it was delivered’
  • ‘A different meaningful experience where every contribution was hard to make however greatly appreciate

Recipe AttendeesPatients enjoying the sit fit session to Abba’s ‘Super Trooper’:

Daily Meal plans in a liquidised consistency and normal consistency:

The plan now is to discuss the Patient Conference at our Scottish Bariatric Group meeting and decide whether we could do this on a bigger scale for Scottish Bariatric Surgical patients. Meal planner

The recipe book ‘Recipes for Life’ will soon be available to purchase to Dietitians in the UK through Ndr (Nutrition and Diet Resources UK).

This week’s blog was by Pamela Lindsay, Bariatric Dietician, NHS Ayrshire & Arran.

For further information contact Pam Lindsay, Bariatric Dietitian 01292 614589


  1. Great idea, thanks for sharing

  2. Pamela is being too modest about the very well orchestrated and inspiring day she facilitated. All of the presentations, particularly the patients’ ones were wonderful. A highly successful day. Well done Pam

  3. Great blog and good to see your reflections

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: