Renal Supportive Care – Trail blazers at a smaller regional hospital

Mrs Bridget Brown1

1Launceston General Hospital, Launceston, Australia



In 2011, we started a renal supportive care clinic (RSCC) at the Launceston General Hospital, to help patients facing difficult decisions regarding treatment for end stage kidney disease (ESKD), to care for those choosing not to have dialysis, and to support those with complex symptoms. The RSCC utilised existing clinicians, and requested no additional funding.


The RSCC is Nephrology-led, and consists of a Nephrologist, Chronic Kidney Disease Educator and a Social Worker, with palliative care input as required. The clinic runs weekly with referrals accepted form other Nephrologists, dialysis nurses and GPs. Initial consults are one hour and reviews 30 minutes. Patients are encouraged to bring family members along.


There have been close to 1000 service events at the RSCC since 2011. Of 250 new patients with ESKD seen in this unit over the last decade, about 70 have chosen supportive care. Such patients receive holistic care through this clinic till the end of life. In recent years, the RSCC has also served remote patients utilising telehealth.  About 125 patients currently receive treatment through this clinic.


The RSCC has demonstrated that a shared care model with a multidisciplinary team approach can expand choices and support patients with ESKD. Availability of the service has enabled patients to make shared decisions well aligned with individual goals and values. We have shown that in chronic illness, clinician-led initiatives can bring much-needed relief to suffering patient groups.


Bridget began  renal nursing in 1994 in Alice Springs and has remained in this area,  aside from two stints in project work. She has a certificate in renal nursing and a Masters in Public Health – chronic conditions. She has been employed as the chronic kidney disease educator since 2005. And from the side of her desk she works alongside the Nephrologist Dr Raj in Renal Supportive Care.

Bridget has four children that are  all taller than her now!