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Volunteering to Help Dialysis Patients

Whether you know someone on dialysis, have known someone on dialysis or would simply like to support the community of people on dialysis, there are many ways you can volunteer your time and talents to help this group of people who have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Also, if you are in need of volunteer work for a college application or resume, volunteering to help dialysis patients is a great way to spend your time. The following are easy and rewarding ways you can volunteer to help dialysis patients either on your own or through an organization.

Give someone a ride to dialysis

Some people on in-center hemodialysis may feel weak after their three- to four-hour dialysis treatments. These people would prefer to have someone drive them to and from dialysis because they may not feel safe behind the wheel after their dialysis treatments. Other patients may be elderly and unable to drive to their dialysis treatments or may not have a car. If you have a car and free time during the day, consider driving someone to and from the dialysis center for treatment. After dropping off a dialysis patient, you can spend your time running errands, going to a movie, reading in the waiting room or anything else you’d like to do until the dialysis session is over and it’s time to go home.

Lend a hand to a dialysis patient

All forms of dialysis take up a person’s time during either the day or night. This generally means that people on dialysis have less time during their days to do everything they need to do. Consider volunteering to help someone on dialysis with tasks such as mowing the lawn, washing the car, going to the grocery store, cleaning the house or doing homework. Lending a hand can take some of the pressure off people on dialysis and allow them some time during their day for things that they enjoy.

Make someone a kidney-friendly meal

People on dialysis generally have a different diet than people who do not have CKD, and cooking kidney-friendly meals can take some getting used to. Consider cooking a kidney-friendly meal for someone you know who is on a dialysis diet. Depending on you how much you enjoy cooking, you can make a simple dish or a complete meal from an appetizer to dessert. You can find recipes for kidney-friendly meals at DaVita.com/Recipes. This can be a great treat for any dialysis patient whether they live alone or have a family. If the person you know lives alone, consider preparing a large meal so there will be leftovers and he or she will get a break from cooking for a couple of days. As an extra treat, you may want to share the meal you’ve prepared with your friend who is on dialysis. Even though you may not be on a dialysis diet and have to watch your intake of potassium, phosphorus and sodium, you can still enjoy sharing a delicious, homemade, kidney-friendly meal.

Spend time with a dialysis patient

An illness, such as CKD, can take an emotional toll because it affects so many aspects of a person’s life. Sometimes people on dialysis would just like to spend time with other people and not think about CKD or their medical condition for awhile. They might enjoy simply getting out and going for a walk, playing a game, watching a movie or going for a car ride. If you know someone on dialysis, consider spending some time with him or her when your schedule is free. Take your friend to their favorite park for a stroll, rent a movie, go to a beach, lake or other scenic area, cook together or do something else that you both would like to do.

Raise or donate money for kidney patients

If you have a talent for organizing fundraisers or community events, consider heading up a fundraiser to donate money to the kidney care charity of your choice. If you’d like to participate in something fun and physical to raise money for kidney disease, consider being a part of a DaVita Kidney Awareness Run | WalksTM or another walk that benefits kidney disease. Walks are a great way to get some exercise while raising money through personal and corporate sponsorships. If you find that you’d like to help dialysis patients, but don’t have the time to volunteer, consider donating money to kidney disease research, a kidney care foundation or a specific person you know with kidney disease that may need monetary support.

Become a Village Greeter at a DaVita dialysis center

DaVita has a volunteer program for community members called Village Greeters, which aims to make the patients' experience more enjoyable. Volunteers can do things such as greet patients as they come into the waiting area or lobby, participate in the planning and decorating for theme days or celebrations, and read or call bingo to patients.

To volunteer at a DaVita center, please send an email to villagegreeter@davita.com or contact a center near you. You can locate a DaVita center near your home or office by using the DaVita.com Find a Dialysis Center tool.

Become a Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) Patient Ambassador

Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) is the largest dialysis patient organization in America. A nationwide, nonprofit, patient-led organization with free membership open to all dialysis and pre-dialysis patients and their families, DPC works to improve the quality of life for all dialysis patients through education and advocacy.

DPC Patient Ambassadors are dialysis or pre-dialysis patients or family members who volunteer to represent DPC by being leaders in their communities and local dialysis facilities. One of the primary responsibilities of a DPC Patient Ambassador is to provide dialysis patients with the education, access and confidence to be their own advocates.

DPC provides all the training, tools, materials and support needed for Patient Ambassadors to:

  • Build a relationship with their legislators
  • Invite members of Congress and/or district staff to visit their dialysis facility
  • Respond to DPC Action Alerts and distribute them to other patients and families
  • Contact their members’ Washington, D.C. offices at least three times per year
  • Educate fellow patients and members of their community
  • Distribute articles and other educational materials to the patients in their clinic and be prepared to answer non-medical questions
  • Educate their community on kidney disease
  • Recruit new DPC members and mobilize patients to advocate for their care

Benefits to being a DPC Patient Ambassador include:

  • Recognition as a leader in their community
  • Potential to visit Washington, D.C. for Washington DPC Advocacy Days (all expenses covered by DPC)
  • Potential visits to their state house to participate in State Advocacy Days (all expenses covered by DPC)
  • Monthly educational and strategy conference calls, including insider’s reports on political and legislative developments in the nation’s capitol and opportunities to share best practices with fellow Ambassadors

Dialysis Patient Citizens Patient Ambassador applicants must be current dialysis patients, pre-dialysis patients or family members interested in acting on behalf of dialysis and pre-dialysis patients to improve the quality of life for all patients. Desirable skills include experience or strength in advocacy, public speaking and good writing skills. Applicants must also be supportive of DPC’s mission and charter. Learn more about DPC at www.dialysispatients.org.

Get involved with the National Kidney Foundation

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has volunteer opportunities available through local affiliates in your area. If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of dialysis patients, but prefer a behind-the-scenes role, a volunteer position with the NKF is a great choice. As a volunteer for the NKF, you can assist with local programs or events, participate in surveys, write articles, help create brochures and get involved in current legislative efforts regarding kidney disease. Check the National Kidney Foundation website for local volunteer positions.

Summary

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in the kidney care community and make a difference in the lives of people on dialysis. If you would like to volunteer, use one of the ideas in this article or talk to someone you know on dialysis and see what you can offer him or her with your time, unique talents and compassion.

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