2006 my mother had to start her dialysis treatment due to renal failure caused by a congenital defect on her kidneys. With this mandatory readjustment to her life she accepted all changes that where made.
Patients with renal failure (when the kidneys fail to adequately filter the blood from waste) is increasing all over the world and 2020 it is calculated to exceed 3.8 million. The cause for renal failure could be one of many, but it is often seen as an outcome of heavy dehydration, severe infection or longterm diabetes which could explain the increasing number of patients.
The most common treatment for renal failure is hemo dialysis. This treatment is an effective way to clean the blood outside the body in an artificial kidney connected to the patient by a hemo dialysis machine. The patients are spending 6-7 hours 4 days a week at hospitals to clean their blood which is comparable with an 80% employment. By adapting the hemo dialysis to the patients lives I want to show that there are better ways to effectively treat patients.
Inspiration and Method
In my project I involved several hemo dialysis patients and closely followed their treatment to get their view on the pros and cons of todays treatment. I also had a close collaboration with the staff of the – self dialysis department of Norrlands Universitetssjukhus which helped me in my process to reach a relevant result.
It is important to understand and observe how the patients are effected by the treatment, how they live and what they really need. The fact that all human beings are possible patients made me look into solutions which were flexible and adaptable. By realising the diversity of needs I focused on routines which we all share, such as sleeping.
By changing the context of the dialysis treatment from hospital, to the home of the patient, It is obvious that the user of the product must be changed from hospital personnel, to the patients them selfs. In turn this means a need for a new hemo dialysis machine. The machine should be easy to use with minimal training. It should also be integrable in the patients home without standing out or stigmatising the patient. Most importantly, the treatment should be integrable in the patients lives with minimal affect.
The result is a concept which improves the possibility to do nocturnal dialysis and thereby minimally affects the patients daily routines. The concept is consisted of three modules instead of one big machine. This improves the possibilities to adapt the product to the individual needs. The modules are a filter machine, one concentrate container and a storage drawer.
Inspired by furniture classics which have the home as their natural habitat I designed the modules to melt into the bedroom context. This way the patient wont have to see the machines unless they need or want to.
It is important to realise that with increasing numbers of patients the possibility to treat every one at hospitals wont be possible. By giving the possibility to the patients to bring their treatment home in a worthily way also improves life quality and independence. This would also result in economical gains.