Diaverum’s d.HOLIDAY programme is centered on the belief that the freedom and mobility to travel, without disrupting continuity of care, is essential to empowering our patients to live fulfilling lives.
An important part of ensuring we meet this commitment, are our close relationships with kidney patient associations (KPAs), who help us ensure the needs and wants of our patients are fully met.
We caught up with Tina Pajunen, Vice President of Njurförbundet (Swedish Kidney Association). For Tina, this work is especially personal; her 33 year-old son has been receiving haemodialysis treatment for over 20 years, which inspired her to become one of the leading advocates for CKD patient rights in Sweden today.
Hi Tina, it’s a pleasure to be talking to you today! Can you introduce us to your organisation and the work you do?
I am the Vice President of the Swedish Kidney Patient Association – our vision, much like Diaverum’s, is that everyone living with chronic kidney disease should be supported in every way possible to live a rich, long life.
Our organisation promotes and safeguards the interests of CKD patients across key areas, including treatment, care, rehabilitation and social security. More specifically, we focus on advocating for equal care, dialysis treatment that’s tailored to the unique needs of the patient and better access to organ donation.
We are passionate believers in health literacy, as means of empowering patients to advocate for themselves; one of the programmes I am personally leading at the moment, relates to educational materials aimed at CKD patients and their loved ones.
Our work is centered around our “Idea Programme” that describes our goals and spans across six areas: kidney care, organ donation, children/youth, work/education/social security, information and research.
With about 10% of the global population living with CKD, kidney disease is becoming increasingly prevalent, and we are committed to sharing our resources and knowledge as far as our reach can take us; we work closely with our counterparts in Denmark, Norway and Finland, ensuring that our resources and knowledge benefit CKD patients beyond Sweden’s borders.
How does the KPA work to support and enable CKD patients and their families who wish to travel?
For many CKD patients, there can be a perception that the demands of dialysis treatment place travel beyond their reach. Our KPA is instrumental in ensuring our members and their loved ones are aware of the support that’s available to them, whether travelling across Sweden, or perhaps further afield to a dream destination.
Our KPA has arranged trips for almost 20 years. This is something that is open to all Sweden-based CKD patients and their loved ones, who can register their interest in participation through our website.
Using our experience and knowledge, we are involved in the start-to-finish process of organising the trips, ensuring that patient safety and treatment needs are fully met. As group leader, I coordinate all matters between patients’ home and holiday clinics, covering everything from medical documentation to planning trip itineraries. On average, our trips tend to last 14 days - allowing for both a restful holiday and accommodating the demands of dialysis treatment.
Our first trip took place in 2005, when a group of patients visited Tenerife. This has since become an annual tradition, where a group of up to 50 people goes on a 14-day trip every September, pausing only in 2020/21 due to the pandemic. We resumed our travels this year, spending a wonderful couple of weeks in Majorca.
How long has the Swedish KPA collaborated with Diaverum?
Our journey with Diaverum began almost 10 years ago, when we organised a group trip to Torremolinos.
Since then, our collaboration has growth from strength to strength, due in large part, to the fact that Diaverum clinics’ standard of care is equal across its network.
The other significant benefit, is that it’s possible for both HD and HDF patients to join the group travel, under the proviso that the patient’s home clinic agrees and also that their medical status satisfies basic criteria for travel.
We have successfully organised a number of trips to Diaverum locations, including favourites such as Spain and Portugal. The proven continuity of care has meant patients can expect a seamless transition between their home clinic and clinic at destination, allowing them access to life-sustaining treatment and the freedom to enjoy these beautiful locations.
How do you believe travel impact patients and their families quality of life?
Mobility, the freedom of movement, is a basic human right we believe is essential for a fulfilling life – and one that our KPA strives to provide for CKD patients and their loved ones.
Connecting patients with the ability to travel is an affirmation that their lives don’t begin and end in a dialysis clinic; and while CKD is a disease whose management is time-consuming, it does not need to consume their lives. Our travel initiatives also offer a host of benefits for care partners, who walk alongside patients in this journey.
Beyond the change of scenery, these trips allow CKD patients and their loved ones to connect with others that are in similar situations. This, together with being able to experience something outside of their routine, is simply invaluable.
We are always looking for ways to grow and improve on our trips; for example, some groups will have 2 nurses accompanying the group for the duration of their trip. This is something we are looking in to developing further at the moment, as we know that this offers a greater sense of security for patients that choose to travel with us.
What is your favourite part of these trips?
What’s great about our group travels is that they being together people from all walks of life; more often than not, people in these groups don’t know each other from before – by the end of a trip, many have forged new, meaningful friendships.
My greatest wish for our travel programme, is to continue finding ways to develop it, as it’s something that creates real, tangible value for CKD patients and their loved ones.
And one last question…which is your favourite d.HOLIDAY destination?
That’s a difficult one!
It’s different to choose only one destination as a favorite, as all our trips have been fantastic in their individual ways - but Mallorca and Torremolinos are enduring favourites, thanks to their accessibility for our patients and their relatives.