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Self-dialysing at home improves renal patients’ lives

06 November 2019

Health Care

Long hospital visits and waits are a thing of the past for a group of renal patients at Southend Hospital, with the launch of a new home haemodialysis service.

Haemodialysis is a treatment for end-stage renal failure that uses a machine to filter blood through an artificial kidney so excess fluid and waste products can be removed from the body.  Traditionally, patients visit the hospital three times weekly at times and days set by the unit and have to stick to a strict diet and fluid restriction and face constant tiredness. 

Now with committed home therapies staff and an allocated training room, staff are inspiring confidence in patients to dialyse in the comfort of their own homes, and improve their lives.   

Elaine Barradas, Home Therapies Sister, said: "We empower them to look after themselves independently and fit their dialysis around their own lifestyle.  This allows them much more flexibility in their life and avoids constant travelling to hospital.

The first home haemodialysis patient started dialysing at home in March and the team are just starting training patient number seven to go home.

One of those who has already successfully completed his training is Kevin Daintree, from Westcliff-on-Sea, who has been dialysing at home since June this year. He spoke about how it has improved his quality of life, whilst dialysing in his bedroom.

Kevin said: "I'm in a couple of music groups, so one of the disadvantages of being dialysed at the hospital three nights a week meant not being available for rehearsals or gigs on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday was extremely limiting.  So, one of the things about doing it at home is the ability to fit your dialysis around the things that you want to do, so it has made it much easier for me to be at rehearsals and do gigs locally and around the country.

"Doing dialysis at home also connects you a little bit more with the family; it means you're at home in the evenings, rather than one coming in from work and the other going out to sit at the hospital for four hours. And then you come home and everyone is asleep. It's a huge benefit to be able to have more quality time with your loved ones.

"It's also more comfortable doing it at home; it's just nice to be in your own surroundings. I often make a sandwich and drink beforehand and watch a film or listen to some music whilst I have it done in my bed. Some people have a designated chair, but I find it more comfortable in bed. We have the same equipment that's used in hospital. Thanks to the training, using it has become second nature, and we still have a huge amount of support from staff in the hospital and the community."

That support for Kevin came from Elaine, who still keeps in regular contact with Kevin, to help ensure he is happy with his progress.

Elaine, who recently won a Southend Hospital Heroes Chairman's Outstanding Achievement Award for her hard work in implementing this scheme, said: "I love coming out to review the patients that I've trained for dialysis at home, because I can see the positive impact it has had on their lives. I'm proud of every one of them; the intense training they go through is about three of four months. They're not clinically trained, so is quite an undertaking. They have to learn to line and prime a dialysis machine, put their own access in and do their own drugs.

"It's also much better for patients when they are dialysing daily because they don't get the build-up of toxins and fluid, the feedback I have had is amazing, they all just want to say thanks for giving them their life back. It has given them all a much more positive outlook on life."