Firstly, many, many thanks for your kind thoughts and good wishes. I very much appreciate them. And they must have worked, ‘cause I’m back!
I’ve been going on for some time now about how important it is for people on dialysis to travel if they can. Across the state or to a foreign country. Not only can it be a wonderful adventure, it can change your whole outlook: My life is not just what I do between dialysis runs, I’m a traveller, who dialyses every now and then between adventures.
Maybe 20 years ago, it was radical to travel across the world. But now, not only to patients expect to travel, so too do dialysis clinicians promote travel as an important part of each dialysis patient’s life.
Think of a country, region or city, and 9 times out of 10 there will be a dialysis unit there that will be able to cater for your needs during your stay. Sometimes the units are public (government run), sometimes private; often they are busy, so you’ll need to negotiate to get a seat, but most will welcome you with open arms.
The big question now is: how good is the dialysis where I want to go? Is it safe? Are the staff knowledgeable and capable? Will I have to wait long for my sessions, is the seat was comfortable, is there wireless? Cash or credit? Any chance of a nice meal? And many more questions.
Of course, the best way to find out is to ask someone who has dialysed there. Someone who knows the ins and out of what dialysis patients worry about and expect.
But good, current review sites are thin on the ground. Which is a shame, because I think that most patients I know of would rate units they have travelled to as at least 4 star; so a patient-driven rating site would, rather than passing judgment from on high, emphasise how safe it is, and thus help encourage every dialysis patient to travel.
So, about a year ago, I wrote to several famous review sites, suggesting they should have a special category for dialysis patients to review units based on specific criteria. Zero interest.
Then I decided to have a go at building a site. I wrote up what I wanted and put up a job on one of the many IT programming job sites. It started well, but fairly quickly the person I got to do the job lost interest. FAIL; start again.
I talked about the site with some friends and one suggested that I should try to get it built as part of a University community project. Great idea! I contacted the local university, Swinburne University, just down the road. Yes, they would be happy to look at a programming a holiday dialysis unit rating website as a project for some of their IT students, so long as there was a community benefit.
We had a meeting. I wrote a paper. Yes, they would schedule the project to start in July 2017. Since then, three very clever students, their supervisor and I have been very excited and creative, and our excitement and pleasure of creating this thing of beauty has not flagged. Over the last five months, the site has gone from an idea on paper to a detailed design, to now, a working system.
The next step, before releasing in January 2018 for real reviews is to test it, to make sure there are no surprises or glitches and to get your feedback so we get it right for everybody.
Of course, anyone and everyone can be a tester, not just BigD-ers. The more the merrier.
Testing involves going to the development site, logging in, signing up as a user, then play with the site as you see fit. So, if you have a moment, please jump in and give it a go!
Latest: The system test period is now over. Watch out for the system launch in January 2018!