Saturday, 18 May 2013

Coping with complexity in home hemodialysis

We've just had a paper published on how people who need to do hemodialysis at home manage the activity. Well done to Atish, the lead author.

People doing home hemodialysis are a small proportion of the people who need hemodialysis overall: the majority have to travel to a specialist unit for their care. Those doing home care have to take responsibility for a complex care regime. In this paper, we focus on how people use time as a resource to help with managing care. Strategies include planning to perform actions at particular times (so that time acts as a cue to perform an action); allowing extra time to deal with any problems that might arise; building in time for reflection into a plan (to minimise the risks of forgetting steps); and organising tasks to minimise the number of things that need to be thought about or done at any one time (minimising peak complexity). There is a tendency to think about complex activities in terms of task sequences, and to ignore the details of the time frame in which people carry out tasks, and how time (and our experience of time) can be used as a resource as well as, conversely, placing demands on us (e.g. through deadlines).

This study focused on particular (complex and safety-critical) activity that has to be performed repeatedly (every day or two) by people who may not be clinicians but who become experts in the task. We all do frequent tasks, whether that's preparing a meal or getting ready to go to work, that involve time management. There's great value in regarding time as a resource, to be used effectively, as well as it placing demands on us (not enough time...)


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