Patient-centred research: Home Away from Home

Associate Professor Rachael Walker runs the patient-centred research project that examines services from the patients’ perspective, in this case kidney dialysis in community houses.

Leader:  Associate Professor Rachael Walker 

Associate Professor Rachael Walker runs the patient-centred research project that examines services from the patients’ perspective, in this case kidney dialysis in community houses.

About 17 per cent of dialysis patients in New Zealand are on home haemodialysis, and community house patients fall into that category. This research is funded by a lotteries health grant and was awarded to Rachael, along with David Tipene-Leach (LINK), another EIT colleague Aria Graham and other national collaborators.

This is the first study exploring patient experiences of community house dialysis, including identifying the advantages and disadvantages of dialysing in a community house and whether it better meets cultural needs of Māori and Pacific people.

 “The services we deliver as health care professionals need to align more to the preferences of the people who access these. When inequities exist, our services are letting people down. We need to understand barriers and enablers to accessing health services, positive and negative experiences that influence future interactions with health care providers and we need to understand ways to improve the delivery of care particularly for Māori and Pacific people,” says Rachael.

Home Away from Home is the first study exploring patient experiences of community house dialysis. This research builds on Rachael’s previous “Home First” study that explored the factors that influence patients’ decision of whether to dialyse at hospital or home.

The “Home First” research, which Rachael conducted for her doctoral thesis, identified a number of barriers to home dialysis including socio-economic factors and decreased nursing support. She also found that patients had negative experiences of the health care system and highlighted the importance of including family in all aspects of care and decision-making.