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Bromford working in partnership to help support renal patients

Bromford has been awarded a two-year contract to provide social support for patients with kidney failure.

Working at the QE hospital in Birmingham and satellite centres across Sparkhill, Aston, Great Bridge, City Hospital, Woodgate Valley, Hereford and Kings Norton, Bromford offers help and support across a number of areas: housing; employment and opportunities; emotional and mental health problems; managing money and living independently.

Since launching the service last year there have been over 230 referrals. Cases are wide ranging with patients having diverse and unique requirements including needing help at home and personal equipment to cater for physical needs; benefit applications and appeals with immigration issues – the main challenge with this being customers who receive medical assistance but beyond that are not entitled to public funds or housing.

Emma Bannister, senior support worker, said: “This is an exciting new venture where we can use our expertise to support patients in areas of their life where they may be struggling and which may impact on their health. Our role is to challenge decisions made in regards to benefits, ask the right questions and be a voice for them. We can provide help with a range of challenges patients may have to deal with once they have returned home following dialysis in the satellite units.”

Support worker Stephanie Buckman, who is working in the dialysis units to support customers directly said: “We can help people who may have a property that is no longer suitable for them, if they are homeless or need grants for furniture or a stair lift. Management of finances can be difficult for many, with some relying on state benefits and most not well enough to find paid employment. The health implications of receiving kidney dialysis often means that customers feel extremely fatigued after receiving treatment and only just about feel well by the time the next round of dialysis begins. Therefore maximising income is one of the main areas of work that I tend to be focusing on.

“It’s common for patients who receive a life-changing diagnosis to become depressed and dialysis patients are no different. Starting dialysis, whereby the patient has to attend a unit three times a week, has a huge effect on other aspects of their life and my role as a support worker is to offer the emotional support needed to help them come to terms with the changes taking place in their life, to put them in touch with other agencies be that social or financial support, and to help them see that dialysis is just one part of their routine.”

Emma summarised the diverse nature of the support with one particularly challenging case: “We have one patient who is in his early 20s and has had a stroke as well as kidney failure. He is wheelchair-bound and can’t get into a sheltered scheme as he is too young and doesn’t fit the criteria. He is looking at private rent but that would need some adaptation. We are championing his case and have been bidding for six months but are struggling to find suitable accommodation that can be adapted. We want to work smart with agencies to get problems sorted.”

Bromford can help specifically with:

  • Adaptations that might be needed at home: a hand rail to get up stairs; steps converted to a ramp at the front of a property; a higher toilet or a chair for the bath or shower.    
  • If someone is returning to an unsuitable property that could have a negative impact on their recovery, eg, damp.    
  • If someone is suddenly out of work and can’t pay their mortgage.    
  • Advising people who are homeless so they get the right advice.    
  • Support to get benefit entitlement, eg, someone going through dialysis three times a week isn’t entitled to the new incapacity benefit as ‘on paper’ they can work part-time but the fatigue makes that impossible.    
  • Supporting people with their emotional wellbeing and mental health.
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