Dialysis at home: saving lives, preserving autonomy

  • Posted on 07.06.2018

Dialysis at home: saving lives, preserving autonomy


Juan Carlos Julian

Director General, Federación Nacional ALCER


Dialysis can be essential to the wellbeing of people living with kidney failure. However, many patients have concerns about the impact of regular dialysis on their daily activity. Will they lose independence? Will it affect their family and professional lives?

Today there are technological solutions that allow patients to adapt their treatment to their way of life – and not vice versa.  With peritoneal dialysis, the therapy can be delivered at home, without needing to go to a medical centre. For suitable patients, this enables dialysis to be performed while they sleep, thus allowing them to maintain their personal and work activity by day.

Web connectivity platforms enable remote monitoring, so that the process can be supervised and controlled by specialists. This provides patients with security and confidence.

Patients choice

It is important that patients participate actively in the choice of their treatment, as they know best how dialysis will impact their daily lives. In Spain, a multi-stakeholder organisation –  the Support Group for the Development of Peritoneal Dialysis (GADDPE) – was established in 2009 to raise awareness of the treatment options available to people with kidney failure.

The group has highlighted the low uptake of peritoneal dialysis in Spain in several ways, including through a recent video by the EuropaPress.tv agency in Madrid. The short film features testimony from patients, as well as a doctor, about dialysis and its impact on patients’ lives. The goal is to illustrate why some patients might choose to have peritoneal dialysis at home.

Research has shown that when kidney patients receive adequate information about the available treatments, 50% of those who start dialysis choose peritoneal dialysis at home. However, figures of the use of peritoneal dialysis are strikingly low in Spain: only 5% of patients who require renal replacement therapy use this option (11.43 % of those on dialysis). 

GADDPE aims to improve access to information on treatment options in collaboration with health professionals, patients and the wider healthcare system. The group says it has seen some improvement in recent years, but much work remains to be done.

In addition to home dialysis technology, GADDPE would like to see new technological solutions that improve communication between hospitals and patients’ home. Not only would this offer additional peace of mind to patients and continue to optimise outcomes, it would offer two things that are sometimes missing from renal replacement therapy – choice and autonomy.

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