12 December 2018
Having kidney disease can be very isolating but the Royal Free London is determined that their patients will get the help and support they need … with the help of other patients.
Sarah Milne, lead nurse for the trust’s chronic kidney disease service, has spearheaded a project to embed peer support into patient care.
While healthcare staff can inform patients about the condition and about the treatment available they can’t offer first-hand experience and that’s where peer support can really help.
The team working with kidney patients prioritised the project and a working group was set up and patients keen to engage as peer supporters were invited to participate.
Sarah said: “As a team of healthcare professionals we decided this was a priority but we knew it all hinged on training and enabling patients to become peer supporters. We are looking to have 20 peer supporters, all with different experiences and some have already completed their training.”
Patients will be able to self-refer to the scheme and leaflets signposting them will be available at dialysis units and clinics across the trust.
Sarah added: “Chronic kidney disease is a difficult condition to live with. Even receiving a transplant is treatment not a cure. It can affect anyone from any age and any ethnicity and our peer supporters reflect that breadth and depth of experiences.
““People can ask the questions they really want the answers to such as what’s the best way to tackle holidays on dialysis or how does a catheter feel? It enables patients to have an informal chat face-to-face or over the phone.”
Helene Joseph, one of the new peer supporters who has been receiving dialysis for seven years, said: “The Royal Free Hospital saved my life and I want to give something back and I know many of my fellow peer supporters feel the same way. I know I would have really valued having something like this when I was first told I’d have to go on dialysis as it came as a complete shock. I didn’t take in half of what the doctor told me so having someone on my level to talk to, who had been through what I was going through, would have been fantastic.”
Alice Abekah, another new peer supporter who has also been on dialysis for a few years, added: “At first people are full of apprehension and anxiety about what the future holds but it’s about reassuring them that they can still do so much.”
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