Experiencing a kidney disease is a way of life in itself. People with renal disease, whether on dialysis or after a kidney transplant, become detached from their routine life and are forced to adjust to a new world. The renal healthcare team plays a crucial role in helping patients and their caretakers adapt to their new life. While each team members has unique roles and responsibilities, they all work together to achieve one goal – the highest quality of life for the patient.
Members of the dialysis care team include the nephrologist, dialysis nurses, social worker, dialysis technician, dietitian, and the patient.
A nephrologist is a licensed medical doctor who specializes in renal disease. The nephrologist establishes the care plan alongside other members of the renal healthcare team. He or she prescribes medications and treatment, orders diagnostics, and makes necessary adjustments to the overall treatment plan based on the patient’s condition.
The dialysis nurse oversees the implementation of the plan of care. He or she coordinates with other team members to ensure treatment plan is carried out. The nurse is also responsible for crafting and implementing patient education plan, providing direct patient care, assessing patient prior and post dialysis treatment, and training other team members.
Renal disease, especially chronic kidney disease, is life-changing. That is why a nephrology social worker is essential in the management of patients. The social worker assists patients and their loved ones adapt to the changes in their lives – and this includes helping them with the emotional and financial issues that are a part of kidney disease. They provide counseling to the patient and family members.
Social workers also address issues with patient’s healthcare coverage, patient resources, rehabilitation, and community services. They help rebuild the patient’s life.
There are different types of technicians in some centers. Patient care technicians are those who are directly handling the patients and are under the supervision of a nephrology nurse. Biomedical equipment technicians maintain and troubleshoot dialysis equipment. They ensure that the machines are in perfect shape for every use. There are also reuse technicians who reprocess the dialyzers.
Diet has a significant impact in the overall treatment of the patient. The renal dietitian makes sure that the patient’s nutritional needs are met while keeping dietary restrictions. He or she also assist the patients in coming up with a meal plan that will maintain health at the same time enjoyable and easy for them to follow. The dietitian also provides education for the patient, family members and caretakers on how to meet nutrition needs.
Last and the most important member of the health care team – the patient. As the person with renal ailment, the patient must learn about his condition and its treatment. They should also know their patient’s rights and responsibilities.
Patients should notify his care team about any problems or symptoms as they develop. Patients know themselves best so they are the ones who can more accurately gauge the progress of their treatment, whether they feel better or not. They also spend most of their time outside the center and are in control of their lives.
Healthcare providers must encourage patients to have input into their care plan. Being involved in their care increases their compliance to the treatment regimen, including dialysis, medications, diet and fluid limits. The rest of the team assists the patient towards a quality life. In some cases, it is family members or caretakers who will speak in behalf of patients.
Whether you are a dialysis nurse or a renal dietitian or a social worker, you should dutifully fulfill your roles and responsibilities. You are a member of one team and the patients are your goal!
The word TEAM actually means Together Everyone Achieves More!