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Rare glimpse into UK dialysis unit to show reality of care and research needs

12 May 2022

A renal nurse in Scotland is sharing her 30 years of experience this International Nurse’s Day to help raise awareness of the huge undertakings faced by renal nurses across the UK. Rachel Cox, a renal practice educator at University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock, has teamed up with Kidney Research UK to provide a rare glimpse into life on a renal ward.

Rachel Cox hard at work in the uni
Rachel Cox hard at work in the unit: photo credit – Guy Hinks

Rachel's Twitter takeover

Rachel, who is a kidney donor herself, will be taking over the organisation’s Twitter channel this Thursday, sharing elements of her daily routine and the challenging dialysis treatments she helps patients with, before reflecting on how the ward has changed over the past 30 years.

As well as illustrating Rachel’s contributions to the smooth running of the unit, the charity will feature a number of patients attending the renal ward on the day in order to shed light on the patients’ experiences.

You can follow Rachel's life on the ward on our Twitter channel from 8:30am on International Nurses Day, Thursday 12 May.

Rachel Cox with patient Guy Hunter
Rachel Cox with patient Guy Hunter while on dialysis: photo credit – Guy Hinks

Rachel Cox, renal practice educator at University Hospital Crosshouse, said: “A lot has changed in the past 30 years of working on the ward, and yet at the same time research needs to progress much further. The treatments are maybe easier to carry out and easier to do, and sometimes patients don’t feel as unwell. But the impact it has on people’s lives hasn’t changed. I want to do the best I can, so patients’ experiences are as positive as possible and I hope it makes a difference. Whilst I am proud of our unit, in the next 30 years I really want research to make a marked advance in treatments so they are less onerous on patients, such as developing smaller machines to allow even more people to receive dialysis at home and still get the quality treatment they deserve.”

Kidney Research UK is offering this glimpse into the world of renal care, to allow more people to understand the routine difficulties that kidney patients face and demonstrate the need for further research to transform kidney disease treatments.

Sandra Currie, chief executive officer at Kidney Research UK, said: “Too many kidney patients are reliant on units such as Rachel’s. Even those who have been fortunate enough to receive a transplant may not have seen the last of the ward forever. Many transplants only last for around 15-20 years, meaning patients may need to return to dialysis treatment while they wait for another transplant, or for their ongoing care. The work that nurses like Rachel do every day to make sure patients get the optimum treatment and are as comfortable as possible is remarkable. We’re very grateful to Rachel and NHS Ayrshire and Arran for their support. We hope that by showing what life is really like on the wards, more people will understand just how vital their work is and why more research is needed to improve kidney patients’ lives.”

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