At Fresenius Medical Care Argentina, “Quality of Life” is not a slogan. It is a comprehensive program that helps dialysis patients to improve their fitness and psychological condition, while enjoying a sense of community during treatments.
Also offered are rehabilitation classes that help a number of the patients regain control of their daily lives activities and, in some cases, return to work.
The Quality of Life program is continuing to grow as it celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. With about 70 percent of Fresenius Medical Care Argentina’s dialysis patients taking part, clinics hum with Quality of Life activities. These include music, art and occupational therapy, fitness training, and craft activities for patients who need help to regain movement and coordination. And some 600 patients take school courses, including vocational and literacy training.
In the most popular single activity, about 5,000 Fresenius Medical Care patients have received free seeds and instruction in the “Huerta” (family garden program). Patients are shown that gardening is not only enjoyable, but a surprisingly good form of gentle exercise. And by yielding fresh fruits and vegetables, it helps family budgets while encouraging a more healthy diet.
“It is to introduce something absolutely different to dialysis.”
“We are very proud of our Quality of life Program,” said Gabriela Cannatelli, Chief Executive Officer of Fresenius Medical Care Argentina. “It’s a holistic approach that helps patients with chronic kidney disease to continue to live their lives beyond the disease.
Graciela Voronovitsky, the Program Coordinator, said the Quality of Life program encourages patients to take a positive attitude and become more active participants in maintaining their health – not just passive recipients of medical treatment. “I’ve been working in dialysis units for 24 years,” she explained. “This is a paradigm shift. It is to introduce something absolutely different to dialysis. It is a change of culture.”
Quality of Life’s benefits are measurable, including a sharp decrease in painkiller use by participating patients, an 18 percent drop in treatment absenteeism, and a 38 percent increase in treatment adherence.
“There are patients experiencing reduction in pain, and also the diabetic polyneuropathy symptoms,” said Dr. Pablo Bevione, Medical Director of the FMC clinic in Pilar, near Buenos Aires. “They have also improved their physical ability to perform daily activities.”
Natalia Alonso, a Music Therapist at the Pilar clinic, said it is tremendously satisfying to see patients open up to others by singing together. “When you can hear people talking and not just machines, for me that’s more than enough.” Added one patient, Vicente Fasano, who particularly enjoys the music: “This is a family – a family that loves each other.”
At the Pilar clinic, various Quality of Life activities – gardening, rehabilitation, music and occupational therapy as well as schooling – have been combined in a pilot project called “Center of Day.” It involves some 200 patients and has been recognized by the Ministry of Health, with the goal of introducing it in more clinics.