The National Institute for Health & Social Care (NICE) have just launched guidance for clinicians looking after people on dialysis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people with kidney disease are feeling incredibly anxious about their dialysis and how they can reduce their risk of catching COVID-19. Knowing that the staff looking after them at this time have clear guidance will be reassuring, and we welcome the constructive, practical recommendations in the guidance, which will help to maintain a safe, patient-centred dialysis service for kidney patients.
The guidance is for healthcare teams, but there are some key points that are useful for patients to be aware of:
- They place emphasis on the importance of clear communication with patients and supporting mental as well as physical health
- The guidance recommends that an individual care plan is drawn up for each patient; making it clear where and how your dialysis will be given, advice or reminders about restricting fluid and food with high potassium levels to keep you safe between sessions, and any changes in medications
- Waiting times are to be minimised at units. This might mean that you are asked to wait in your car and then you will receive a text when it is time to come in
- There will be screening before you go into dialysis, and rapid testing if you have symptoms of COVID-19
- Help should be given to you to ensure you get to your dialysis, by car if possible, or by getting a lift from a family member (as long as it does not expose them or you to COVID-19)
- In the case of some patients, the potential for moving on to home haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis might be discussed in order to keep you at home rather than coming to a unit or hospital
The new NICE guidance applies whether you are at an NHS or a privately run unit. The guidance also covers the welfare and support for our incredible healthcare staff and we hope you will agree that this is equally important and join us in our appreciation of the amazing work they continue to do for kidney patients. These are unprecedented times but we are all in this together.
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