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Could You Be a Home Hemodialysis Care Partner?

Are you thinking of becoming a home hemodialysis (HHD) care partner? For HHD to work, it requires two motivated people: the person on HHD and his or her care partner. A care partner is trained to perform HHD and helps to provide a better quality of life for someone with kidney disease. DaVita trains thousands of patients and care partners to succeed with HHD each year, and you could be one of them. Before you make a decision, learn what it takes to become an effective HHD care partner.

Who usually becomes the care partner for HHD patients?

Generally, a person with kidney disease will choose a family member to assist with HHD. However, care partners can be neighbors, close friends or professional caregivers. They will be trained to assist with HHD treatments and must be prepared to help solve any problems that come up during home dialysis treatments.

Characteristics of a good HHD care partner

While every patient's lifestyle needs are unique, a good care partner usually has some of the following characteristics:

  • A positive relationship with the patient
  • Ability to stay calm in case of crisis
  • Motivation and willingness to learn
  • Comfortable around medical equipment
  • A flexible schedule
  • Good time management skills

HHD training for care partners

Care partners go through the same training as home dialysis patients. During training, the nurse and training staff provide instruction on how to perform safe, effective HHD. Depending on the needs of the patient and the equipment used, learning the required skills takes an average of three to six weeks.

During training, HHD patients and care partners learn how to:

  • Set up dialysis equipment and perform safety tests
  • Perform hemodialysis treatments
  • Insert needles into the patient's vascular access
  • Keep accurate treatment records
  • Maintain a sanitary environment
  • Order and store dialysis supplies
  • Troubleshoot dialysis problems
  • Solve patient complications, such as low blood pressure or muscle cramps
  • Tackle dialysis problems, such as a dialyzer blood leak

At the beginning of training, care partners and patients will observe the home training nurse and learn the process. As they learn what to do, they will gradually take on more responsibility. Eventually, the patient and care partner will do the dialysis treatments completely on their own, while the training nurse observes. After a few home dialysis treatments, the care partner and patient usually find a comfortable routine that works well for both.

The benefits of HHD

As an HHD care partner, you'll make a significant contribution to the patient's quality of life. Your presence means the person with kidney disease can dialyze in the comfort of his or her home. In addition, home dialysis can make it possible to dialyze more frequently or for longer periods of time1, which may be associated with medical and lifestyle benefits2, including:

  • Better chance of receiving a transplant3
  • More energy4 and improved sleep quality5
  • Quicker recovery between treatments6
  • Fewer diet restrictions7
  • More opportunity to pursue work and life goals8
  • Greater flexibility when traveling
  • Fewer trips per month to the dialysis center
  • Fewer symptoms of dperession9 and improved mental and physical health10
  • Increased satisfaction with sex life11
  • Decreased need for blood pressure medications12
  • Less stress on the heart13

Summary

Home hemodialysis offers both medical and lifestyle benefits to people with kidney disease, and a care partner helps make it all possible. If you're interested in becoming a care partner, learn more about HHD and hear from home dialysis patients on their experiences.

1The prescribing physician will determine the required treatment frequency based on medical necessity. Although home hemodialysis is often prescribed with a more frequent schedule, the physician must evaluate the individual clinical needs of each patient. 2Benefits may vary based on frequency of prescribed dialysis treatments, as determined by your physician. 3Weinhandl E et al. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 May; 23(5): 895-904. 4Finkelstein FO et al. Kidney Int. 2012;82(5):561-9. 5Jaber BL et al. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011;6(5):1049-1056. 6Jaber B et al. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010;56:531-539. 7GallandR et al. Kidney International. 2001;60:1555-1560. | 8Helanterä, I et al. Am J Kidney Dis.2012;59(5):700-706. 9Jaber B et al. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010;56:531-539. 10Fiinkelstein F et al. Poster presentation - Annual Dialysis Conference, 2011. 11Kraus MA et al. Abstract presented at the American Society of Nephrology Conference, 2011. 12Jaber BL et  al. Poster Presentation-American Society of Nephrology Renal Week, 2009. 13FHN TrialGroup. N Engl J Med. 2010;63(24):2287-2300. 

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