Happy birthday to the home dialysis service

Robert Woodhams is shown how to dialyse by nurse Chloe. Image shows Robert sitting in a chair, with a tube in his arm which Chloe is adjusting. There is a machine behind her.
Robert Woodhams is shown how to dialyse by nurse Chloe

Published 16 June 2022

A service helping kidney patients manage their treatment at home is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The home dialysis service run by East Kent Hospitals was launched in June 2002. Since then it has helped almost 90 people have their treatment at home, saving them hours of travel time and giving them the freedom to feel in control of their treatment and to arrange it around their daily lives.

Some people have been on haemodialysis at home for over 10 years, avoiding the need to come into hospital three times a week for treatment.

Robert Woodhams, 63, from Rochester, has been a home dialysis patient for six years.

He said: “Being able to dialyse at home has changed my life, as well as my wife and daughter’s lives.

“We have the flexibility of being able to do a dialysis session at any time of the day that suits us. It gives me a better quality of life being in the comfort of my own home rather than in hospital. Home dialysis is easier than we imagined and it didn’t take us long to learn the ropes.”

Home haemodialysis manager Paula Debling, who was part of the team who set up the service two decades ago, said much had changed over the years.

She said: “The machines we use are different, and the way people manage their treatment is different too.

“We are very much a patient-led service, so if someone has an idea or a request we will work with them to see if we can make it possible.

“We have patients who manage their treatment entirely independently, and others who rely on the support of relatives or friends, but they all say it improves their quality of life and gives them their time back.

“It isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to have the freedom to choose their own dialysis schedule it can be a lifeline.”

A total of 470 people attend the Trust’s hospitals and satellite clinics for dialysis sessions. Dialysis is a treatment for people whose kidneys do not work properly and helps to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood. The service is based at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital with satellite units in Margate, Medway, Maidstone, Dover and Ashford.