S.H.A.R.E.—The Motivation Association
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S.H.A.R.E.—The Motivation Association

By Lisa O’Neill, RN, BSN, CNN

Staff at the Sun Health, Inc. Dialysis Unit recognize the importance of patient feedback in dialysis care. So in 1996, when several patients asked staff to help start a renal support group, S.H.A.R.E. (Sun Health Associates Relating Experiences) was born. S.H.A.R.E. is a “motivation association” for patients, caregivers, and staff, where they can share information and experiences, and get a morale boost. A successful renal support group requires consistency and creativity. S.H.A.R.E. meetings, facilitated by a staff member and a patient representative, cover a large variety of topics that are suggested by patients. Meetings are consistently held the first Sunday of each month; Sunday was the day of choice because it’s everyone’s “day off.” Associates (i.e., patients, family members, and staff) meet either at the unit or at a local nature center to provide a change of scenery.

Educational workshops include topics such as:

  • Stress management
  • Issues related to transplants
  • Peritoneal dialysis as an alternative to hemodialysis
  • Medication review: e.g., binders, iron, antihypertensives
  • Value of exercise
  • Nutrition issues
  • Dealing with sleep problems
  • How to cope with chronic illness
  • Family caregiver support

Other popular topics range from nutritional cooking demonstrations, led by the Sun Health dietitian, to craft lessons taught by a patient’s wife, to nature walks. Special guest speakers from the community are often willing to make presentations to the group, usually free of charge. For example, S.H.A.R.E. has sponsored informational sessions on kidney transplants (e.g., criteria for appropriate candidates, how to get on the transplant list).

Patients and staff have a strong feeling of second family at Sun Health. After most meetings, the group adjourns to a local restaurant, where learning and mutual support continues. S.H.A.R.E. provides a support system for Sun Health associates and for other dialysis patients/families in our community who hear of the support group through the local newspaper.

Participation has risen significantly over the past few years, with some meetings drawing up to 100 attendees. What keeps our association going is our care and concern for one another and strong administrative support from our unit manager and medical director. Variety also helps. As one patient put it, “We always do something different.”


  • Staff and patients become better acquainted, which facilitates communication.
  • Patients have the opportunity to share experiences with and learn from their peers.
  • Patients and families gain knowledge about kidney disease and its treatment, which enables them to take a more active role in their care.

Name: Lisa O’Neill, RN, BSN, CNN
Title: Charge nurse, S.H.A.R.E. facilitator
Organization: Sun Health, Inc. Dialysis Center
Joliet, IL
Date: September 1999