Staff members at Bullen Healthcare have put themselves in the shoes of their customers this week by spending a day wearing a stoma bag. The day is part of Bullen Healthcare’s support of Colostomy UK’s #StomaAware campaign which aims to raise awareness amongst the general public about stomas which are a hidden health condition.
It’s estimated that there are over 100,000 people living with a stoma across the UK, but despite this, it’s not a health condition which receives widespread attention. In fact, many people do not even know what a stoma is.
A stoma is an opening on the abdomen which is created during surgery to allow faeces or urine to exit the body which is then collected in a bag on the outside of the body. Conditions that can lead to stoma surgery include bowel cancer, bladder cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, or an obstruction to the bladder or bowel.
Although stoma surgery is life changing, it’s not a visible condition as stoma bags are hidden beneath clothes. As a result, people living with stomas can find themselves subject to discrimination or misunderstandings.
Tackling Stoma Stigma
Bullen Healthcare, which delivers essential stoma supplies such as bags and other related products, talks to hundreds of people with a stoma every week and is familiar with the lack of understanding around the health condition.
Denise Williams-Cox, Clinical Director of Stoma Nursing at Bullen Healthcare, explains, “From being criticised for using disabled toilets for ‘not looking disabled’, to facing difficulties travelling through airports or getting into venues, we continually hear how people with a stoma are faced with discrimination due to a lack of awareness amongst the public and businesses.
“That is why we are supporting Colostomy UK’s #StomaAware campaign, to help raise awareness of stomas and educate the public and businesses about what living with a stoma entails.
“With any such campaign, it’s important that change begins with yourself. So, here at Bullen Healthcare our staff spent the day wearing a stoma bag so they could gain a first-hand understanding of some of the challenges faced by people with a stoma.”
Living with a Stoma for the day
“It really was quite an eye-opening experience,” explained Matt Davies, one of Bullen Healthcare’s warehouse team. “In the warehouse we know how important it is that our customers get their products when they need them, but it’s not until you experience wearing a stoma bag yourself that you have an idea of some the challenges that people with a stoma face.
“That’s why it’s important for people to be aware of what stomas are and what having one involves. I’d recommend everyone look into Colostomy UK’s #StomaAware campaign and learn more about it.”
Bullen Healthcare simulated the experience of having a stoma by encouraging their employees to wear a stoma bag for a day, the bag was filled with porridge to give an idea of what wearing a stoma bag is like.