Forum: Breaking down barriers to employment for dialysis patients

When kidney failure patients go on lifelong dialysis, the time and physical toll that treatments exact on them make employment challenging (Challenging to have laws to keep dialysis patients at work, more flexible arrangements needed: Koh Poh Koon, Aug 3).

For example, haemodialysis patients require frequent treatments - thrice a week, four hours each session. Dialysis patients are also subjected to frequent medical appointments and, sometimes, emergency hospitalisation due to their comorbidities.

At the National Kidney Foundation, empowering patients to be able to self-care is important as it helps them to manage the numerous challenging health and psychological issues that come with kidney failure.

This includes helping patients find suitable jobs that can accommodate their dialysis schedules, as well as career guidance and job matching services.

We have patients who are on automated peritoneal dialysis and working full time. They carry out their dialysis treatment from home overnight while they sleep. Some opt for nocturnal dialysis or dialysis that starts in the late afternoon or evening, so that they can continue working.

Through gainful employment, patients gain a sense of control, become self-reliant and have a greater sense of self-worth.

There are patients who tell us that during a job interview, the employer stops asking them questions once he hears that the person has kidney failure and needs dialysis.

On the other hand, it is encouraging to see more employers who have looked beyond a kidney failure patient's illness and offered him a job with flexible working hours and special concessions.

We hope more employers will work with us to better understand the specific challenges to employment that dialysis patients face, and help address the gaps, apply flexible arrangements and remain empathetic.

It is through this spirit of many helping hands coming together that we are able to ensure that more kidney failure patients are not left behind, and are able to return to or remain in the workforce so that they can lead purposeful and fulfilling lives.

Tim Oei

Chief Executive Officer

The National Kidney Foundation