Living Well on Dialysis

Living Well on Dialysis

In 2017 the KPA provided an innovation grant to the GSTT Chaplaincy team to help people who were having difficulty living on dialysis. The Living Well on Dialysis (LWD) programme ran for two years in the New Cross Gate unit and has now been expanded to run in both New Cross Gate and Camberwell satellite units. The programme followed another two-year trial, the Living Well Programme, which targeted people wishing to work at improving their quality of life on dialysis.

Some patients participating in the programme have been on dialysis a number of years and have given up many activities of daily living due to chronic pain, symptoms, and lack of energy. The programme set realistic targets—one or two improvements in six-month period—which most participants achieved, although most also wished to receive ongoing support after the programme was over.

Kidney failure has a wide-ranging impact on people’s lives, and even those who normally cope well experience crises from time to time. The Satellite Chaplain has two different roles: first, to deal with hard-to-reach patients by building relationships, enabling them to be open and engage with others and staff.

Spiritual and religious care

Second, the Chaplain offered spiritual care to the patients based on their needs. This included both spiritual and religious care, and pastoral work—solving particular crises as they arose.

In practice, both these roles were closely related; arguably one could not happen without the other.

The basic problem for hard-to-reach patients is that they have complex needs, but often will not accept the help they need. The Chaplain was regularly present on the unit, and engaged with patients and staff. This in turn enabled him tobuild a relationship of trust with hard-to-reach patients so that they could begin to get the help they needed, including specialist help; i.e. referral to social services, physiotherapist, etc.

“I really appreciated the Satellite Chaplain’s visits, it made dialysis much easier to cope with.”

During the course of the LWD programme, the unit manager referred 30 patients to the Chaplain for extra help. Following an initial assessment, the Chaplain made 12 follow-up visits over a six-month period. Results have been encouraging; patients have valued the extra support provided.

A significant difference in the lives of the patients

Overall the programme has made a significant difference in the lives of the patients who participated. The long-term aim is that all satellite units should have and enjoy the benefits of the LWD programme. This will require more funding, so that every unit/shift may receive a Chaplain visit once a fortnight. The benefits of the programme are, first, the work done with the original target group and, second, the regular availability of the Satellite Chaplain on demand for other patients needing help.

By Revd Peter Oguntimehin, Renal Chaplain

Find out more about the Living Well on Dialysis programme

Contact Revd Mia Hilborn, Hospitaller, Head of Spiritual Health Care and Chaplaincy Team Leader (0207 188 1187),
Rev Peter Oguntimehin, Renal Chaplain (0207 188 1185), Revd Barth Orji (Satellite Chaplain).