The members of the team
Usually, a Renal Unit has a team of doctors including specialist consultants (nephrologists),and junior doctors (registrars, senior house officers and house officers).
The consultants have overall responsibility for the medical care of all patients in the Unit, and will care for you over the months and years while the junior doctors will change every 6 - 12 months.
The doctors will supervise your medical care by seeing you formally in outpatient clinics or on ward rounds. If you need to make an appointment with a doctor, ask a member of the nursing staff.
The junior doctors work in the Unit as part of their training and - under the supervision of the consultants - help care for the patients.
Renal nursesRenal nurses help patients to dialyse, and to learn about dialysis. They are usually the "first port of call" for patients' questions and problems, and they have a wide range of knowledge and experience about most aspects of kidney failure. If you have any concerns - whether practical or emotional - ask the renal nurses. If they can't help with a specific problem, they will know who can.
Renal nurse specialists
Some nurses on the Unit are specially trained to deal with particular aspects of kidney failure. There may be a PD nurse specialist, a pre-dialysis or an EPO nurse specialist.
The Transplant Co-ordinator is specially trained to help you decide whether you wish to have a transplant, and to support you through the transplant process. He or she can explain the preparations you would need to make, what the operation would involve, the medication needed afterwards - and answer any questions you may have.
You'll find more about transplants and the Transplant Co-ordinator in the section on Transplants.
A renal dietitian provides specialist advice about diet and nutritional support. He or she will work out a diet tailored individually to your medical requirements - taking into account your own preferences as much as possible - and provide you with your own individual diet sheet which will be reviewed and changed when necessary.
The dietitian is there to support you if you are having difficulties with sticking to the diet - and to make it as easy as possible for you to cope with the dietary restrictions. If you do have problems, or you find you are not eating well, do talk to your dietitian. (You can find out more about the role of diet and the renal dietitian in the diet section).
The Renal Social Worker
Not all renal units have a social worker but they are an invaluable member of the team. They are available to offer information, advice and support about a whole range of non-medical issues that may arise as a result of your illness. They can help in practical, emotional and financial areas. Find out more in How the Renal Social Worker can help
Some renal units have their own counsellors who are available to support patients with the emotional aspects of kidney failure. Sometimes, renal social workers are also qualified counsellors.
Everyone who is affected by kidney failure - patients, carers, partners and family - will have emotional issues to come to terms with. Different people manage this in different ways, but many find counselling helpful. To find out more about what counselling involves, see The emotional effects of kidney failure.