For chronic kidney disease patient Valarmathy Suntharangan and her daughter Kiruthika, quality of life starts with five letters: STREAM. This acronym is part of the name of a new training program at Scarborough Health Network (SHN) that has been designed to empower patients to make an informed decision about self-managing their kidney disease and taking control of their care. Through STREAM Home Dialysis, patients are educated on making the transition to begin performing their own dialysis treatment from the comfort of their homes.

“I used to spend hours each week dropping my mom off at the hospital or her having to take transportation there, and then I would pick her up after school. So much time is saved now that we can do it at home,” said Kiruthika.

This is the kind of impact that STREAM Home Dialysis (HD) is all about. SHN’s hosts the largest regional nephrology program in Ontario, treating and caring for more than 6,000 patients every year. With STREAM Home Dialysis (HD), SHN is offering kidney disease patients and their families an opportunity to extend that care to further enhance their quality of life.

The three-week program serves as a trial period to assess if home dialysis is a good fit for the patient. During this time, patients learn more about their own bodies and condition, and are provided firsthand experience with what home dialysis involves.

The healthcare team also gets to know the patient, their family, and their specific needs better to assess if home dialysis will be suitable for them. This includes considering function, abilities, circumstances, and lifestyle. In addition to the team of nurse trainers, STREAM patients are also introduced to other patients who have successfully transitioned to home dialysis.    

“We were in the hospital doing dialysis when we were approached about the program. We were interested, so we agreed to give it a trial run,” said Kiruthika.

She and her mother were introduced to the equipment required for dialysis and given the opportunity to ask any questions about it. Wherever they felt unsure, the training nurse walked her through the process and answered all questions.

Over the course of the three-week trial, they became more confident — and at the end of STREAM HD, Valarmathy and Kiruthika made the decision with the healthcare team that home dialysis was the right fit for their family. They went on to complete the next eight to 10 weeks of careful and thorough training on how to perform dialysis within their own home, eliminating the need for in-hospital treatments.  

What does STREAM stand for?

Show you what self-treatment dialysis will mean for you and your family.

Train you and your family on everything you will need to know to take control of your treatment, until you feel completely comfortable doing it on your own.

Reassure that we’re with you, we’ll be there every step of the way and are always available to support you whenever you need it.

Educate you and your family about your disease and the treatment that can improve your quality of life.

Assess your comfort level in managing dialysis treatment at home to make sure it is right for you.

Month-long trial to decide if home dialysis is a good fit for you.

Patients who continue with home dialysis training are provided home visits from medical staff to look at suitability for hosting the dialysis machine, and if necessary, are given information on home-retrofitting subsidies available through the government. They also receive guided treatments at home with their primary nurse, an on-call support number and routine check-ins.

“Thanks to STREAM and then SHN’s following home dialysis training program, we learned everything step-by-step and at our own pace. The nurse training us would make corrections as we went, but it always felt comfortable and reassuring,” said Kiruthika. “Now, I feel like I have so much more freedom. It is much easier to manage my life and my mom’s health.”

How to get started with STREAM HD

To learn more about the STREAM HD program, please contact Nelida Sansait, our STREAM Home Hemodialysis trainer, at (416) 431-8183 ext. 8353.

Patients may also return to in-hospital dialysis at any time if they feel during the STREAM trial course or following training program that home hemodialysis is no longer best for them — or if there is a need for in-hospital treatments on a temporary basis (e.g. patient caregiver goes on holiday).