1. What is a “Stoma”?
A Stoma is an artificially created opening in the abdominal wall for the evacuation of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract or urine when normal function is no longer possible. People with a stoma usually wear a disposable bag (known as an appliance) over the stoma attached to the abdomen to catch output.
2. What is the Stoma Appliance Scheme?
The Stoma Appliance Scheme is a specialised pharmaceutical benefits programme administered through the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. The scheme provides free ostomy appliances to Australian Medicare card holders who meet the Departments eligibility criteria. See here for more information about the Stoma Appliance Scheme.
3. Where can I get my ostomy supplies?
Free ostomy supplies are available through the Stoma Appliance Scheme from Gold Coast Ostomy Association or one of the other 21 Stoma Associations located around Australia. Members of the scheme pay a compulsory Stoma Appliance Access fee of $60 ($50 for valid concession card holders) to their association of choice to access the scheme. Please see our ordering page for more information about joining and ordering arrangements. For details about the location of other Associations please see www.australianstoma.com.au/Member Associations.html.
4. Should I tell my friends and family about my stoma?
Whether or not you should tell your friends and family about your stoma surgery is an individual choice. Some people like to keep their condition private whilst others are quite open about it. Either way, it is important to remember that stoma surgery is life saving surgery and is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
5. Can I go swimming with a stoma?
Most persons with a stoma can swim without fear of appliance leakage. Some ostomy suppliers offer a bag intended to be used during activities such as swimming but all appliances can be worn in water. Those people using an appliance with a filter may like to cover the filter with a stick on cover. Some of the newer filters are teflon coated which means that a filter cover is no longer necessary.
6. Can I travel with my stoma?
Having a stoma should not stop you from travelling and many of our members travel internationally on a regular basis. It is a good idea to keep a good supply of appliances in your carryon luggage, just in case your checked luggage is misplaced. Remember to precut any appliances before you go as you wont be able to take scissors onto the plane with you. If travelling internationally, contact the Association to arrange a Travel Certificate which explains your condition in several languages to assist with any Customs enquiries. For those members travelling for extended periods of time, Australia does have reciprocal health agreements in place with some countries which may cover ostomy supplies. See here for more details about Reciprocal Health Agreements.
7. What if I am having trouble with my stoma?
The Association cannot provide medical advice or assistance. If you are experiencing problems with your stoma, we advise you to contact your Stomal Therapy Nurse or General Practitioner. In case of emergency, please contact the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital