Smash Social Exclusion: Stoma Awareness Day

Front view on colostomy bag attached to man patient, medical theme. Selective focus on skin color ostomy pouch close-up. Colon cancer surgery treatment. Copy space.

The 7th of October is Stoma Awareness Day – a day dedicated to highlighting the challenges faced by thousands living with a stoma in the UK. This year’s theme is “Smash Social Exclusion,” bringing attention to the societal barriers and stigmatisation many stoma patients experience. 

Understanding Stoma and the Hidden Disability

Unfortunately, the invisibility of a stoma can lead to a lack of awareness and understanding. Many stoma patients feel socially excluded because others don’t recognise or realise their challenges, which go beyond the physical adjustment.

The Social Impact of Living with a Stoma

  • Social Exclusion due to Lack of Awareness: Living with a stoma can be an isolating experience. The lack of awareness means many people don’t know what a stoma is, how it works, or why someone might have one. This can lead to unintentional yet hurtful comments, stares, or misconceptions. Moreover, many stoma patients are hesitant to discuss their condition due to the fear of judgment or embarrassment.
  • Limited Toilet Facilities: Despite advances in accessibility, the UK still lacks suitable toilet facilities for stoma patients. Standard disabled toilets often don’t cater to the unique needs of someone with a stoma, such as access to a sink within the stall for emptying and cleaning pouches. This lack of infrastructure means that many stoma patients are discouraged from venturing out, furthering their sense of isolation.
  • Impact on Daily Life and Social Activities: Due to the potential challenges they might face while out – like finding an appropriate place to manage their stoma – many people living with a stoma limit their social activities. This can lead to feelings of isolation and can significantly impact mental health.

Moving Forward: Smash Social Exclusion

Awareness is the first step toward change. By acknowledging and addressing the social challenges faced by stoma patients, we can pave the way for a more inclusive society.

  • Education and Outreach: Sharing stories and experiences can demystify the condition. Schools, workplaces, and community centres should actively promote stoma awareness to create understanding and empathy.
  • Improving Infrastructure: Businesses, shopping centres, and public places need to enhance facilities to cater to the unique needs of stoma patients. Having suitable toilets isn’t just a convenience; it’s a necessity.
  • Creating Supportive Communities: Whether online forums or local support groups, having a platform where stoma patients can share their experiences, tips, and challenges can be empowering.

Stoma Awareness Day is about understanding the condition and recognising the strength, resilience, and courage of those living with it. By raising awareness, challenging misconceptions, and pushing for better facilities, we can truly “Smash Social Exclusion” and build an inclusive and understanding society for everyone.

To find out more and get involved, visit Colostomy UK.


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