Stomal Therapy Week at Mater


This Stomal Therapy Week, Mater is celebrating the vital role played by its Stomal Therapy teams in making a difference in the lives of those living with stomas.

A stoma is a surgically created opening on the abdomen that allows for bodily waste to be diverted when the natural pathways are compromised.

Patients require a stoma for various reasons, including gastrointestinal diseases, bladder dysfunction, and because of bowel cancer treatment.

Eric Chuang, Stomal Therapy and Wound Management Clinical Nurse Consultant at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane, said living with a stoma can be a challenging and life-altering experience.

“While it serves a vital function, having a stoma can have a profound impact on an individual’s psychological and social wellbeing, not just their physical health,” he said.

“The loss of independence, confidence, and dignity and the change of body image can also lead to patients mourning their lost body part.

“As a stomal therapist, building a connection with patients starts in the preoperative consultation – we can walk with the patients throughout their journey and provide full support, ensuring patients know they’re not alone in this journey.

“These relationships may remain for months, years or even a lifetime – one of my patients has been sending Christmas cards every year to express his appreciation for how we helped him in his darkest moment in life and led him back to normality.”

Mater’s Stomal Therapy teams work closely with individuals and their families to develop personalised care plans that promote independence, courage, and confidence.

This year’s Stomal Therapy Week theme is “Imagine! What can you be!”

It encourages individuals with stomas to envisage a life full of possibilities, while also celebrating the support system that helps them achieve it.

Tarlya Outram, Stomal Therapy and Wound Management Nurse at Mater Hospital Brisbane, says creating a better quality of life for a patient, while also giving their loved ones peace of mind, is one of the most rewarding parts of her job.

“Caring for a patient post-operatively can often include steering patients away from the stigma that was originally attached to stomas and helping them understand that having a stoma doesn’t limit their ability to enjoy a happy and active lifestyle,” she said.

“I really enjoy being a reassuring presence for them and celebrating with them as we overcome any stoma-related challenges they may face.”

Tarlya was inspired to pursue a career in stomal therapy after watching her Nana undergo care for a bowel disorder.

“I think seeing how compassionate and understanding the stomal therapy team was with my grandmother inspired me to pursue a career in this field,” she said.

By recognising the importance of stomal therapy, we can collectively strive to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals living with stomas.

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