New approach to dialysis care puts patients in control

A new program at Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is encouraging patients to take an active lead in their care. For nephrology patient Joseph Munroe, that means a newfound sense of pride in taking a first-hand role in managing his kidney disease.

SHN’s Scarborough Regional Nephrology Program introduced the new Shared Care approach, adopted from the Shared Hemodialysis Care initiative in the United Kingdom, on January 17. It’s a care philosophy that offers patients the opportunity to learn from highly skilled nephrology staff on how to manage different aspects of their treatment and care.

“Shared Care is really about working in partnership with the Shared Care team – my care coaches. They enable me to do as much in my care as I am able and interested in,” shared Joseph.

“The team provides such exceptional care, but being able to support my own treatment and conduct aspects of my own care tasks fills me with a sense of pride that I am taking a first-hand role in managing my disease.”

Working directly with nurses and other members of the Shared Care team, patients learn the tasks they feel most comfortable handling. The care team works closely with the patients to teach and coach them through the tasks, and are available any time a patient decides they would like additional support or traditional care. The tasks include:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Conducting their observations (blood pressure, weight and temperature)
  • Understanding laboratory results/diet management
  • Managing their symptoms
  • Medication administration/management
  • Managing their vascular access
  • Preparing their pack/supplies for dialysis
  • Lining their machine
  • Priming their machine
  • Programming their machine
  • Starting their dialysis treatment
  • Self-care during dialysis
  • Discontinuing their dialysis
  • Complete after-care of machine

“We know that being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease is life-changing for our patients; we also know that engaging with our patients and families and enabling them to take control of their care can have incredible benefits,” noted Dr. Tam, Chief of Nephrology at Scarborough Health Network.

“In some cases, they feel a sense of accomplishment or independence. In other cases, it can even mean pain relief; as gentle and experienced as our team is, a patient knows their body best and Shared Care gives them greater control over delicate tasks, like inserting their own dialysis needles into their vascular access. And for some, it might mean the difference between coming to the hospital three times a week for dialysis, and learning to become fully independent to manage their dialysis at home.”

With the SHN’s Regional Nephrology Program as the largest in Ontario, making dialysis care practices best in class, through initiatives like Shared Care, was a natural step towards transforming the patient experience. Learn more.

About the Author :