Ceduna hosted three days of Indigenous Voices Yarning 'Kidney Health' consultation sessions this week aimed at improving kidney care in Aboriginal communities.
The consultation brought researchers and health professionals together with Aboriginal people with kidney disease and their family members to discuss how to better kidney care.
The 'aKction' - Aboriginal Kidney Care Together, Improving Outcomes Now - project saw researchers and staff from the Central and Northern Adelaide Renal and Transplantation Service, the University of Adelaide, Kidney Health Australia, the SA Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute at Ceduna District Health Services to speak with local staff, doctors and community members about improving services for patients.
The team has spoken with staff and community members in both Adelaide and Port Augusta, and University of Adelaide project researcher Janet Kelly said the aim was to improve kidney services for patients and their families.
"We want to know what's working well and what gaps there are, so we can fill those gaps," she said.
"We wanted the community to share their ideas about how to improve the situation."
She said there were "big challenges" in accommodation should a patient require care away from their town, such as a person from Yalata requiring treatment in Ceduna or Port Augusta.
Former Ceduna resident Roxanne Sambo, who works at the Royal Adelaide Hospital's renal department liaising with doctors and senior staff in offering cultural support and safe practices for Aboriginal patients, said it was beneficial to have such sessions.
"Consultations like this are important and encourage to have perspectives from community and patients," she said.
The 'aKction' team said getting Ceduna patients back home for treatment, rather than staying in Adelaide, was a goal.
Ceduna has two dialysis chairs at the hospital for four sessions a day, six days a week, but will get another to allow for six sessions per day.
Dr Su Crail, a kidney doctor who has visited Ceduna regularly for the past nine years, said there was a need to expand the dialysis unit, which was both a positive and negative.
"It is good to see people come home, but it also means that more people need treatment," she said.
"Kidney health starts from a young age - it is about eating good foods, exercising and keeping active after finishing school."
Ms Kelly said she received feedback from one patient stating she felt well supported being closer to home, having been allowed to return to Ceduna for treatment after showing she was taking her medicine and undertaking regular dialysis
The hospital's director of nursing Andrew Lane said they were keen to be part of the project to get perspectives from people about barriers and how the hospital could help to reduce access barriers.
"Only good can come of it, and it's good to get a statewide perspective, which will feed into national guidelines," he said.
The team will compile a report to be shared with patients and health and service providers, to ensure all the information is correct.
Ms Kelly said the final report would then feed into a first national clinical guideline about Aboriginal kidney care.
"The voices of Ceduna people will feed into the guideline and will inform on future kidney care," she said.