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TI renal service expands with self-care unit

4 December 2018

Thursday Island resident Francis Bon is the first patient to benefit from a new self-care renal haemodialysis unit that has been established at Thursday Island Hospital.

Mr Bon said he and wife Elsie had been very keen to return home to Thursday Island after spending a year undergoing nurse-assisted dialysis in Cairns.

He will undertake his first self-care session on Thursday Island on 5 December and will be able to dialyse himself there every second day at times that suit him.

The new self-care unit is adjacent to the existing nurse-assisted renal dialysis unit in the Community Wellness Centre, where Mr Bon also could have received care.

However, learning to dialyse himself, rather than relying on nurse-assisted care, has given Mr Bon a much wider degree of independence.

He can set his own times for dialysis and come in when it suits him rather than fitting in with the scheduled dialysis sessions at the nurse-assisted unit.

Mr Bon said he and wife Elsie had undergone training in self-care haemodialysis in Cairns from August to ensure they were able to manage the process themselves.

“It’s really great to be back on TI with my family and friends and being able to look after myself,’’ he said.

“I’d like to thank all the staff at the home haemodialysis training centre in Cairns for all the help they gave me and Elsie to make my return to TI possible.’’

Mr Bon is one of 6 Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area residents who are now dialysing themselves, whether in their own homes or in self-care units in a hospital such as the new unit on Thursday Island or a similar unit at Bamaga Hospital.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Northern Region David Kitchener said there was a growing trend toward encouraging clinically suitable patients to

learn how to dialyse themselves rather than relying on nurse-assisted care.

“Self-care gives a patient much more flexibility and independence,’’ he said.

“Patients can do it in their own homes, at times that suit their lifestyle and commitments – with equipment provided and serviced by Queensland Health – or use a self-care unit like the one at Bamaga or the new one on Thursday Island.

“It also reduces pressure on nurse-assisted dialysis units, which can then focus on caring for those patients who are assessed as not being clinically suitable to undertake self-care and therefore have no choice but to access a nurse-assisted unit.’’

Mr Kitchener said while Mr Bon was the first patient to use the self-care unit, additional patients could be accommodated as required.

He said candidates for self-care dialysis must meet set safety criteria, including being deemed clinically stable enough to dialyse themselves in a remote setting without immediate access to specialist renal medicine services.

“Patients deemed suitable to undertake home dialysis first need to undergo intensive training at a major centre, such as Cairns,’’ he said.

“This may take from two to 12 weeks, depending on the form of dialysis they plan to undertake – whether peritoneal or haemodialysis dialysis – with home haemodialysis training taking longer.’’

Mr Kitchener said the choice of home dialysis programs depended upon patient-related medical and non-medical factors.

“Patients who are not clinically stable enough to dialyse themselves at home using supplied equipment, or in a self-care unit, must continue to access nurse-assisted dialysis services such as those available at our nurse-assisted units on Thursday Island and at Cooktown or at a larger centre like Cairns,’’ he said.

Mr Kitchener said the Thursday Island nurse-assisted dialysis unit had been established in March 2015.

“Since then, we have expanded that unit from six to nine dialysis chairs and now cater to nine patients,’’ he said.

“Prior to the establishment of the Thursday Island dialysis unit, all patients would have had to relocate to Cairns or elsewhere to access assisted dialysis.

“Now, if clinically suitable, they can have their treatment on Thursday Island, closer to home, family and friends.

“Our newly established, separate self-care unit is just another extension of our growing renal services here in the Torres Strait.

“It caters for patients like Mr Bon to who want to dialyse themselves but cannot not do it at home because of unsuitable conditions and therefore need to come into the hospital to do it.

“For instance, the new self-care unit has excellent infrastructure for water purification which is sometimes not possible to provide in private homes on the island and which is vital for safe dialysis.

PHOTO CAPTION: Francis and Elsie Bon – happy to be home.

Last updated: 14 December 2018