Improving the quality of communication and service provision for renal patients of South Asian origin: The contribution of a cultural and health improvement officer

Author: Akhtar1, Tahira, Hipkiss, Vicki & Stoves, John

Publisher: Journal of Renal Care, DOI: 10.1111/jorc.12086

Publication date: September 2014

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A large number of patients with advanced chronic kidney disease in Bradford, UK are of South Asian origin. Effective delivery of care for these patients demands a consistently high standard of communication between patients, their families and renal unit staff. Communication may be problematic for a number of reasons, including language barriers and an incomplete appreciation of important cultural or religious beliefs. In 2010, we received charitable funding for an Ethnic Liaison Support Worker, renamed Cultural and Health Improvement Officer (CHIO). The CHIO is able to engage with and support patients, relatives and other members of the multidisciplinary renal team. Core responsibilities include ensuring that patients and their families feel at ease whenever they are in communication with the renal services team in Bradford; contributing to formal discussion and explanation of important clinical issues in the patient's first language (typically Urdu or Punjabi), thereby encouraging patients to feel more involved in decisions about their care; listening to ad hoc patient queries and concerns and addressing these directly or indirectly through timely involvement of other members of the renal team; cultivating a greater awareness of and empathy towards the holistic needs of patients and their families within the renal MDT; and strengthening the links between renal and social care services. The involvement of the CHIO is especially important when discussing sensitive and complex issues such as conservative and end-of-life care with patients and their families, as communication needs to be detailed, precise and unequivocal. This is crucial to providing a bespoke supportive service for our all patients, especially those who have opted for conservative management. The significant contribution of the CHIO to the quality of renal services in Bradford has been recognised and a permanent CHIO post has now been established.