Working towards independence

Specialist nurse Diane Walker believes self-care dialysis units in hospitals signal a new era for renal nursing, writes Catherine Sadler

Specialist nurse Diane Walker believes self-care dialysis units in hospitals signal a new era for renal nursing, writes Catherine Sadler.

Abstract

When Diane Walker asked about a discarded machine in her hospital’s storeroom during her nurse training in the 1980s, she was told it was for kidney dialysis but no one knew how to use it. This prompted her to take the ENB renal nursing course as soon as she qualified.

‘Dialysis nursing has come a long way since then, and is now one of the fastest developing specialties in our profession,’ says Ms Walker, now a home and supported self-care dialysis specialist sister at the St Pancras Kidney and Diabetes Centre.
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Diane Walker at the unit in London’s St Pancras Hospital where renal patients can learn to self-dialyse

This new self-care dialysis unit at London’s St Pancras Hospital is one of the first of its kind in the UK. The unit opened in April, with a supported patient self-care training area where up to 72 patients can perform all or part of their kidney dialysis at a time convenient to them.

Ms Walker says it is ideal for patients who don’t have the space at home, or who prefer to have a nurse nearby during dialysis. It can also serve as a supportive transition between hospital and independent home dialysis.

‘Giving renal patients the chance to take control of their dialysis, where and when it suits them, looks set to change the face of renal nursing,’ Ms Walker says. ‘Patients gain confidence and a real sense of achievement as they learn how to operate their dialysis themselves, which gives them a real buzz.’

Ms Walker liaises between hospital and community renal services to provide home dialysis patients with phone support and visits, and is training the unit’s nurses to teach self-dialysis.

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This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 30, issue 15

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