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Renal Home Therapies team supports patients to live more independently

The Renal Home Therapies team at the Royal Berkshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is working closely with patients and their families to help them live more independently, without the need for frequent and time consuming visits to the hospital for dialysis.


Patients living with kidney failure were invited to two informative roadshows hosted by The RBH Renal team in conjunction with Kidney Care UK, Baxter Healthcare  and Nxtstage, to find out more about the variety of renal home therapy options provided by the Trust.


For many patients, dialysis is performed in a hospital or renal centre three times a week, with each session lasting approximately four hours. At the Royal Berkshire, the Renal Home Therapies team provide advice and support to enable patients to undertake either haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis  at home, providing flexible alternatives to hospital based dialysis promoting greater patient independence.


The roadshows included demonstrations of equipment and the opportunity for patients to talk directly to patients who already carry out home dialysis, as well as to the renal team, Kidney Care UK and the commercial dialysis suppliers.


Donna Smith from Reading began dialysing 23 years ago. When she first started dialysis she needed to visit the Royal Berks dialysis unit three times a week. However, five years ago she decided to try home haemodialysis and was able to talk about how much this has improved her quality of life.  Donna also gave a demonstration of dialysing on the machine she uses at home and talked through the process and the support she receives from the home therapies team and technical support staff.


David Macken, another advocate for home dialysis, was also there to talk patients through the process.  David used to come to the hospital after work three times a week, but now is able to use home dialysis five times a week, which not only improves his quality of life in not needing to make trips to the hospital, but there is growing evidence that more frequent dialysis can provide a greater sense of wellbeing.  As David said: “In-centre dialysis keeps you alive; home dialysis gives you a life”.


Dialysis carries out the job that the kidneys would normally do. Healthy kidneys clean your blood by removing excess fluid and waste. They also make hormones, including Vitamin D (which keeps your bones strong), and erythropoietin that keeps your blood healthy. When your kidneys fail, harmful waste builds up in your body, your blood pressure may rise, and your body may retain excess fluid, leading to ankle swelling and shortness of breath (water in the lungs). When this happens, you need treatment to replace the work of your failed kidneys.


In haemodialysis your blood is allowed to flow, a few millilitres at a time, through a special filter (the 'dialyser' or artificial kidney') that removes water & waste. The clean blood is then returned to the body. This also helps to control your blood pressure and keep the proper balance of certain chemicals in the body.

Peritoneal dialysis the alternative home dialysis therapy also cleans and filters the blood but the process uses a naturally occurring membrane within the body that is accessed via a permanent tube in the abdomen. This process is performed four times each day, with each session taking 20 minutes, or once over night for eight hours while the patients sleep.


The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is committed to providing the very best care for patients, supporting both their physical needs and their overall wellbeing. The Trust regularly hosts events in the community for patients and the public, promoting the health and wellbeing of the local population. 

16 April 2018


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