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Peer Counseling Eases Stress

By Lee Deuell

One of the programs we have at my unit is called the "Approachers," a one-time peer counseling session for people who are approaching the need for dialysis. The facility social worker asks the new patient for permission to give me his/her name and phone number. Since I've been on dialysis for 25 years, the staff feel that I'm qualified to provide information to new patients on topics like what to expect at each treatment, how the machine works, etc. I try to take some of the fear and mystery out of the process.

We also talk about the new patient's major concerns, but I'm careful not to give advice that requires the opinion of a medical professional. I encourage patients to learn more by asking the nurses questions and by taking advantage of other learning tools, such as the unit's pamphlets, books, and videos on end-stage renal disease and dialysis.

I only work with patients who have chosen to go on hemodialysis, because that's the only type of treatment I'm familiar with. I usually conduct this session over the phone, but sometimes I see dialysis patients in the unit, within the first couple weeks of treatment.

Permission received to post the following information:

Name: Lee Deuell
Cause of renal failure: Inherited
Time on dialysis: 25 years
Treatments used: In-center hemodialysis
Work/other activities: Volunteer as a computer instructor
Date: July 1999

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