In her song Big Yellow Taxi Joni Mitchell wrote “…you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” – I’d like you to bear that in mind as you read this blog.
Last week I attended the north west launch of PKD Charity UK’s Befriending and Peer Support project. Sadly, the event wasn’t as well attended as I’d hoped but every cloud has a silver lining and the lack of numbers encouraged the people who were there to ask questions and chat to one another over light refreshments at the end of the presentation.
So a few of us were chatting about the Befriending Service and the conversation moved on to discussing the provision of renal social workers and renal psychologists, how the provision was patchy across the country and how lucky we were to have both at Salford Royal. Then someone quietly dropped a bombshell, the renal psychology service at Salford Royal was under review! I was rendered temporarily dumbstruck! How could a service that has helped so many and is envied across the country be under review? Is there a suggestion that it doesn’t improve kidney patient outcomes and quality of life? Perhaps service commissioners think that any psychologist can do the job and that it doesn’t require specialist knowledge.
Without the help of two of the renal psychologists at Salford Royal I couldn’t have achieved my primary goal of returning to work after chronic illness and depression. I’d still be hiding away at home, avoiding social contact and gradually fading away. Their insight into the nature of my underlying condition, the fact that they understood the specific aspects of my treatment and the effect it had on me was invaluable. I know of other renal patients who have overcome needle phobia as they embark on haemodialysis, yet more who have been relieved of their anxieties caused by the bewildering physical, social and psychological changes to their lives. Can’t commissioners understand that by providing this specialist support it’s not just the patient who benefits, the service itself is improved? For example, an anxious, needle phobic patient can start dialysis quicker because the nurses on the dialysis unit aren’t delayed by having to deal with the anxieties and phobia which in turn makes them more productive.
So back to the title of the blog and how you can help. Next time you get 5 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, ask yourself “What if there was no specific renal psychology service?” and, if the service has helped you or someone you know, follow it up with the question “Where would I (or someone I know) be without the intervention of that service?”. I’d be grateful if you could then post a comment below about how the renal psychology service has helped you or a friend so that the renal psychologists have some evidence of the impact of their support.
The renal psychological service is a crucial element in the treatment of a significant number of kidney patients, we must not let it disappear because once it’s gone it won’t return.