Last time I attended the stoma clinic, the nurse set up my supply line to get the stuff I need for Kermit (my stoma) – bags and accessories. All these things are available on prescription on our wonderful NHS. The nurse ordered the things I would need for the immediate future and the parcel arrived in due course.
After this, it was up to me to place an order when I needed anything, and last week I did just that. After the stoma open day we attended in June, where we picked up loads of samples from different companies, I had the opportunity to try lots of different products, and decide which ones suited me best, so I knew what to order.
When the stoma nurse put in the first order, she sent a template for them to cut the bags to size, but when I used the bag that she cut for me that day, the hole was too large and almost immediately I was getting itching and skin irritation, so I removed the bag and cut a new one myself, and phoned her to let her know. I contacted the company and asked them to send the first batch of bags uncut, and I would cut them myself, which is what I have been doing.
I spoke to the gentleman at the company and said I would post him a template in due course, and that I would like my bags cut to this size thereafter.
The parcel arrived today, and all the bags are perfectly cut! Not only are they to my exact template, but they seem to have cut them with some sort of hot tool or laser or something because the cut line is extremely smooth and regular – far more so than I was able to do with scissors. I shall phone them in due course to tell them how pleased I am.
They have sent me 3 boxes of my regular Coloplast SenSura soft convex bags, and enough accessories to last the same time as the bags will last: adhesive remover wipes and barrier wipes by Independence; deodorising spray: NaturCare pouch deodoriser/air freshener spray in zest vibrant citrus by Opus Healthcare – I decided on second thoughts that this was preferable to my original first choice of the OstoMart mint drops, as the smell is gorgeous, and it doubles as an air freshener spray as well; and Silex silicone flange extenders by Trio Ostomy Care. I did not order any adhesive remover spray as I have plenty in the form of samples from the open day, and what the hospital supplied.
All the companies supply complimentary disposal bags and dry wipes, but I asked them not to send me any this time as I still have plenty supplied to me by the hospital.
The supplier I am dealing with is Patient Choice. They are a non-profit company which also supports ostomy charities. They have a service for collecting unwanted supplies and redistributing them free of charge to those in need. When I phoned through with my order, I asked about this, and they said they would send me a pre-paid bag to put things in and post back to them. I have got quite a few redundant bags from the days when I used flat-backed ones, and quite a lot of samples which I don’t want, and various banana flanges which the hospital supplied, which didn’t suit me. I also had a lot of stoma rings which I’ve never been able to get on with. All this stuff was taking up quite a lot of space in my storage tower and I am glad to be shot of them! I have packed them all up and they will go off tomorrow. It’s very nice to know that the stuff I do not want, but which is perfectly OK, does not have to be thrown away and wasted, but can be of use to others. I think this is an excellent idea.
So far I am very pleased with the company. They have been consistently friendly and helpful on the phone. They have been revamping their website, but this evening I was able to register online, and once I hear back from them I shall set up an online account and order my supplies from the website rather than by phone.
How the system works is that after a supplier receives the order, they contact the GP who issues a prescription, and then they fill it and post to you what you ordered. Easy peasy. The only thing to remember is to order in good time, just in case there is a problem with the post or something – one doesn’t want to run out of things, so it’s a good idea to order while you’ve still got plenty in reserve, especially if you are going on holiday, or around Christmas when the post can become unreliable.
Like many of the other supply companies, Patient Choice are not tied to any particular manufacturer. Whatever products are on the prescription tariff, they can supply. Everybody’s needs are different, and one’s list of supplies consists of products recommended by your stoma nurse as being appropriate for you, and your own personal choice.
An example of team work: between the patient, their stoma nurse, their supply company, and their GP. It’s a tried and tested system with the least amount of hassle involved for the patient, who after all has enough to deal with, managing a stoma, without having to stress about getting the stuff they need!