Dec 14, 2015
Undergoing stoma surgery can be confusing, stressful and frightening. Although many ostomates find that the Colostomy Association’s helpline and range of literature provides them with enough information and advice, some new patients need extra support.
Stoma patients at Royal Stoke University Hospital who have questions or concerns have been able to find invaluable support in their team of volunteers, one of whom is Moira Hammond, who started working in this role about seven years ago.
Moira has a unique perspective as a hospital volunteer as she was visited in hospital by a CA volunteer, Ernie Hulme, one week after her stoma surgery. This meeting provided her with the reassurance and information she needed to come to terms with her stoma. Three years after her operation, Moira was asked if she would like to help others in the same way, by working as a volunteer for the local Outlook Group under the guidance of the hospital stoma care nurses led by Julie Rust.
The Colostomy Association’s hospital visit volunteers must work closely with their local stoma care nurses to provide the appropriate level of advice and support to patients. At the Royal Stoke University Hospital the stoma care nurses are key to hospital visiting. They are aware of patient’s needs and ask them if they would like to see a volunteer who has a stoma. Most patients accept this offer. Moira arrives at the ward and introduces herself to the nurses at the desk to ask if it is these patients are well enough for her to talk to them. If they are, she introduces herself to them, showing them her CA volunteer badge and hospital authority badge, saying that she has a stoma too. They then have as long a chat as they would like to.
Moira can usually provide them with the information they need. If they have another type of stoma she gives them the contact details of other charities and In some cases, she speaks to relatives or carers about any questions they may have.
One of the main challenges Moira faces is in providing appropriate advice or information: “I therefore have to assess their needs by listening to them, answering their questions and judging their situation by careful questions.” A volunteer must not give medical advice but if asked says ‘ You need to ask your stoma nurse/Doctor about that’.
“Perhaps they are likely to have a reversal, or sometimes they tell me they are awaiting results of biopsies and maybe the prognosis may not be good. This is a challenging area and I tread very carefully, assuring them of support from all concerned with their care, telling them they are getting the very best of care from our large Colorectal Team.”
However, the role is incredibly rewarding as it has the power to transform people’s lives. Speaking about her best experiences as a volunteer, Moira said: “Usually it is seeing the change that occurs from someone being frightened and confused about their stoma to a degree of acceptance and understanding. It helps them to know that there are many other stoma patients also enjoying their lives.
If you are a stoma care nurse or patient and think you could benefit from a Colostomy Association hospital visitor then please contact the Colostomy Association.
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