Wellness Week 2018: Tamara Whorms-Riley brings health promotion front and centre in The Cayman Islands
Wellness Week in the Cayman Islands, provides an opportunity each year to celebrate the health of the nation and provide hope for those who seek to start or even renew their healthy lifestyle journey.
Tamara Whorms-Riley, a Community Dietitian in the Health Services Authority attached to the Public Health Department and has been promoting health and wellbeing for over 8 years. During Caribbean Wellness Week, she works with the Department and its numerous stakeholders to provide free health screening for people across various communities.
“We raise awareness about Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs), and the lifetime impact on wellness as well as the burden CNCDs can induce on families, the health systems and the community overall,” Whorms-Riley said.
Some of the key programmes and tools used by Riley’s team include: The School Nutrition Education Program which allows for one-on-one monthly class sessions in Nutrition Education; Community Clinics scheduled for each District on a monthly basis as well as monthly home visits for patients who are on homecare and needing special dietary guidelines.
“In addition to these, public education is key,” Riley said. “I take every opportunity as the Public Health Dietitian to do radio programs and community health talks to motivate the people into leading healthier lives by consuming [more healthy portions and options] and being more active.
One experience, Riley describes as special to her, was having a client present with very abnormal cholesterol, Triglyceride and blood glucose levels coupled with grave and concern about their possible outcomes.
“My patient came with a mood of hopelessness and a misconception that ‘dietitians want patients to eat grass and that will not solve anything.’ I assured my patient that I do not tell my patients to eat grass [vegetables only]; but with a balanced lifestyle, team work and check-ins, we could manage their health issues.
In maintaining the programme prescribed by Riley, the patient was able to manage their weight and other health issues. This is one of many stories Riley has.
Tamara is a currently a member of the Dietitians of Canadian, Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics and, a member of the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes as well as the Nutrition and Growth Network.
Her next advocacy effort Riley says is to encourage local farming.
“I hope this will spark the interest of local investors to invest in the local crops so that children and adults alike can start growing their own fruits and vegetables, and be educated into the health benefits they offer, especially when organically grown,” She said.