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Dr Liam Casserly, Lead Nephrologist in the Department of Renal Medicine at UHL

Home Dialysis transforming the lives of chronic kidney disease patients

Home dialysis is transforming the lives of chronic kidney disease patients in the Mid-West, improving quality of life through efficient treatment modes and schedules that can be adapted to people’s domestic and working lives, and reducing frequency of hospital visits for the patient.

At a time when some 85-90% of the 200-220 patients receiving dialysis treatment for chronic kidney failure are doing so ‘in-centre’ at University Hospital Limerick, making it one of Ireland’s busiest haemodialysis services, the hospital’s Department of Renal Medicine team continues to promote home-based dialysis as the best option for patients requiring the treatment.

Dr Liam Casserly, Lead Nephrologist in the Department, who has cared for patients on dialysis treatments for the past 25 years, says: “Patients tell us that home treatments provide a quality of life that comes closest to their normal routines; whether that’s going to the shop, going away for a weekend, having a holiday, or even sudden events like funerals, these home therapies allow flexibility; they allow the patient to achieve their usual goals of life most easily.”

And during the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Casserly explained, home dialysis therapies have been advantageous for patients.

The pandemic has brought great challenges for everyone, but unlike patients who have to come to the in-centre haemodialysis unit, patients who are doing the treatment at home have been safely able to isolate during the peak of the pandemic and over the past few months. This is just one example of the advantages of home therapies. While this isn’t a primary reason to choose it, it again demonstrates the flexibility patients have when they choose home therapies. It also brings new meaning to the phrase, ‘No place like home’.”

Yvonne Crowe, Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Department explains: “When we are talking to patients about potential therapies, we always promote dialysis at home, because it keeps people more independent. It fits in with their lifestyles, their work, their social activities, and it enables them to travel as well. It gives them a lot more flexibility.”

Dialysis treatment in-centre is increasing all the time. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of in-centre treatments at UHL grew from 10,412 to 17,232. However, the logistical demands of hospital-based treatments on the average patient are formidable. In-centre haemodialysis treatment requires three weekly hospital visits (at least 150 visits per year) for treatments lasting four hours per visit.

More patients are experiencing the benefits of opting for either peritoneal or haemodialysis treatment at home.

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