UK’s first Professor of Kidney Care volunteers to help in the fight against coronavirus

UK’s first Professor of Kidney Care volunteers to help in the fight against coronavirus

LSBU's Professor Nicola Thomas discusses stepping forward to help out in the renal unit at her local NHS trust
07 April 2020

LSBU’s Professor Nicola Thomas is this month stepping forward to help out in the renal unit at her local NHS trust.

She is taking on two voluntary shifts per week, building this around her teaching work at LSBU.

Nicola says: “It’s quite a hands-on role I’m going to be doing really. I’ll be greeting and talking to kidney care patients, some of whom have had transplants and are on dialysis. I’ll be chatting to them as they arrive at the hospital for treatment and check-ups, to try and work out what their individual treatment needs are.

“What I’ve realised is that at this time, the nursing staff are far too busy to speak to the patients for very long and I can help support their efforts by taking time to speak to these very vulnerable patients.

“I will be helping to prepare them mentally in terms of what to expect and how to safeguard and protect themselves from contracting Coronavirus.

“If you think about it, it’s a very brave thing they’re having to do every week, as some of the most vulnerable people in society, at risk of catching this virus. The basic act of getting out of bed and leaving the security of their own homes to travel to a hospital, where they are putting themselves at risk of contracting this virus or another illness, is quite something. It takes some mental preparation to be able to do that.

“You also have to remember that some of these patients will be experiencing difficulties with language and comprehension, with health literacy and understanding clinical terminology. They need to have the details explained to them carefully and all of this takes time. That is what I’ll be doing.

“The other thing to bear in mind is that family visits are also severely restricted at this time and many older people do not possess a mobile phone to contact their loved ones. The less opportunity for contact the relatives have with the patients, the more distraught they often become and this situation can escalate.

“I will be doing my best to help support my local hospital, by putting these patients in touch with organisations like the charity Kidney Care UK to ensure they get regular food deliveries and healthcare visits, while making sure that their clinical treatment needs are also taken care of."

Nicola adds: “The local kidney patients’ association has also been really wonderful. They’ve sourced some iPads for our kidney care patients to use at home, for those who aren’t actually able to attend hospital for treatment.”

Professor Nicola Thomas is yet another example of an exemplary LSBU Health and Social Care professional who is going above and beyond to help others at this difficult time. She is drawing on her long career expertise as a renal specialist to support the NHS in the fight to bring an end to the virus pandemic.

In March 2017, Professor Thomas became the first UK nurse to be appointed a Professor of Kidney Care.

Throughout her career Nicola Thomas has worked within the renal speciality and has gained extensive clinical, teaching and research experience in this field. Her clinical interest lies in the care and management of chronic kidney disease within primary care.

Professor Nicola Thomas also holds the honorary Nurse Consultant post at Barts Health NHS Trust where she is involved in educating patients and staff within the East London Community Kidney Service. Her specific expertise lies in patient and carer involvement in education and research.