Conservative care is a treatment option which provides comfort care, both physical and emotional, if you decide to let the disease run its natural course.
For some patients, the treatment options of multiple medications and dietary changes, along with dialysis or a kidney transplant (renal replacement therapy or RRT), may not offer a good enough quality of life. In other words, they feel the burden of renal replacement therapy outweighs the benefits of the treatments and of continued life. In these situations, people have the right to decide not to start RRT.
If RRT has already been started, people have the right to choose to stop it and to be supported with conservative care. Sometimes a full understanding of the difficulties of RRT and the degree of benefit is not clear until after RRT has been experienced first hand for a few weeks. The decision to stop RRT should be made carefully and thoughtfully with the help of the healthcare team to make sure that all important supports are available.
If you choose the conservative care treatment option, the healthcare team will make all attempts to control both your physical and emotional symptoms until death from kidney disease occurs. Medications and treatments can be given to lessen the symptoms that may arise. Emotional support for you and your family is key. In addition, practical assistance available in the community, and through the renal program or hospital, can be identified and adapted to the needs of patients and families.
People have the right to choose the conservative care treatment path. However, before considering this option for yourself, it is important to discuss your feelings fully and openly with your doctor and family. Your doctor and other members of the healthcare team can help you understand what conservative care is all about and what it would mean for you and your family. You may also wish to speak with your religious adviser or a mental health professional.
If you choose the conservative care treatment option, you and your family will work with your doctor and other members of the healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that honours your wishes, and helps you and your family obtain the support and comfort you need.