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Do We Really Know What We Want from a Stoma Bag?

I posted up a survey last month as part of writing this general interest piece as to what myself and others look for within their stoma bag. Does the bag need to be fashionable? Does the bag need to be coveted? More and more future and fellow ostomates are doing their research prior to the operation and requesting to have a certain type of bag that they feel suits their lifestyle.

But what happens if that doesn’t work for you? What do you look for next?

On a personal level for me, the colour of the bags do not bother me and I look more at the durability of the bag and how my parastomal skin looks under the appliance, rather than the aesthetics. Finding the perfect match for you can take time and trying various samples but once you have the one that suits you then stoma life is a breeze.

You always hear about the latest bag that needs to be tried as its slightly different and a little bit quirky, does the bag have to match the clothing and underwear or are you like me? It’s a bag and it does the job.

The aim of the survey was to find out what other ostomates actually want in an appliance rather than the new ‘OMG I must have it because everyone is talking about it.’

There is a broad spectrum of stoma companies with different bags that are designed and used to help fellow ostomates find the right match for them.

But do they really cater to our needs?

The survey results came in thick and fast (with 165 people asked) and I would like to say thank you to those who took part. The results are in and I am amazed with the results.

Q1. What do you look for in a stoma bag?

  • Comfort – 122 people – 74.5%
  • Reliability – 142 people – 87.12%
  • Aesthetics of the appliance – 32 people – 19.63%
  • Security – 99 people – 60.74%
  • Discretion of the appliance – 79 people – 48.47%
  • Water resistant – 69 people – 42.33%
  • Healthy parastomal skin – 89 people – 54.60%
  • Being able to exercise after surgery – 44 people – 26.99%

The key points from this are that people are mainly looking for comfort and reliability of the bag rather than the aesthetic look.

Q2. Does the bag need to be fashionable?

  • Yes – 30 people – 18.40%
  • No – 134 people – 82.21%

Q3. Would you or have you continued to use a bag due to it being fashionable even though you may have experienced some of the issues mentioned below? Please select the problems you have had and then a yes or no

  • Issues with the filter – 63 people – 39.13%
  • Cuts to the parastomal skin – 8 people – 4.97%
  • Itching – 48 people – 29.81%
  • Leaks – 64 people – 39.75%
  • Sore skin – 51 people – 31.68%
  • Poor outlet – 11 people – 6.83%
  • Yes – 21 people – 13.04%
  • No – 124 people – 77.02%

The issues experienced mentioned above are part and parcel of ostomy life and its normally leaks or sore skin that causes us to change the brand of bag.

Q4. Have you tried other brands of bag and then gone back to the previous one once your stoma site has become healthy due to the aesthetics of the bag?

  • Yes – 46 people – 28.40%
  • No – 116 people – 71.60%

This highlights the fact that if the product does not work then the vast amount of appliances readily available are there as an option for the patient to find the right match for them .

Summary

Rolling out this survey only indicates a small amount of the ostomy community. If I could get all the UK ostomates to take part then we might have a broader spectrum to see what everyone would like within their bag to make stoma life more liberating. On a personal note I would love to see a completely water resistant base plate and bag but think that will be difficult due to having to change materials etc.

As always

Many thanks for reading

Louise X  

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