Ballarat patients needing dialysis for kidney failure can now receive treatment in hospital overnight after a $500,000 expansion to the hospital’s renal unit.
With the unit operating at capacity for the past two years, a nocturnal dialysis session has been added to the schedule allowing 12 patients to have dialysis overnight, arriving at hospital about 9.30pm and being discharged by 6.30am the next day.
One of its first patients is nurse Nairobi Saunders who has dialysis overnight and works in the dialysis unit during the day.
Three nights each week she is hooked up to the dialysis machine which filters her blood – the job her failed kidneys are supposed to do.
“Nocturnal dialysis is a lot better for me. It makes me feel more normal. The longer you are on the machine the better it mimics your normal kidney function,” she said.
“Long term evidence around nocturnal dialysis is that it’s easier on patients … who can lead more full lives during the day with better quality of life.”Associate Professor John Richmond
Patients receiving nocturnal dialysis receive about seven hours of treatment, three times a week, compared to the day patients who receive about four hours, three days a week.
“Dialysis is difficult when you work because you’ve got to try to fit everything in, but to be honest I feel like I’ve got nothing wrong with me as I’m not tired, I’m not dragging myself around.”
“I think it gives me a better connection with patients because sometimes they think because you are a nurse there’s nothing wrong with you, so it’s a bit of an eye-opener for everybody.”
Ballarat Health Services began offering nocturnal dialysis on July 3 with six beds which could be extended to 12 if demand continues to increase.
There are 57 patients receiving dialysis at BHS and before the nocturnal dialysis was offered, some were being transported to Maryborough and Daylesford for treatment.
Cameras, night vision cameras and microphones were installed so patients can be monitored without lights being left on, with some building renovations and new equipment also needed in addition to extra nurses. Two staff work overnight for six patients, who are monitored via camera and checked each hour.
Nurse unit manager Leila Higham said patients were getting used to sleeping in the dialysis unit.
“Any time you change environment it’s more difficult to sleep, but they say it’s getting better and patients on dialysis usually don’t sleep well anyway and sleep disturbance is very common.
“We are very aware of making sure the environment is most conducive to sleep,” Ms Higham said.
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Until the start of the nocturnal dialysis, Ballarat patients had been treated in one of two “shifts” during the day.
“It has been knowledge for quite some time that the dialysis unit has been running at capacity for about two years. We explored various options to expand the service but the easiest way was to establish nocturnal dialysis,” said Associate Professor John Richmond.
“Long term evidence around nocturnal dialysis is that it’s easier on patients … who can lead more full lives during the day with better quality of life.”
Nocturnal dialysis patients have also been shown to require less medication, and a research project is underway to monitor BHS nocturnal dialysis patients to quantify the benefits on their health and wellbeing.
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