Some ostomy patients are able to work with a home ostomy nurse following their surgery, but in many cases, your primary caregiver will be your spouse or other family member.

Here’s everything you and your ostomy caregiver need to know about how they can provide the best support following your ostomy surgery.

Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Siobhan and I lead ostomy education here at Better Health. I haven’t asked me that I’ve had for about six years. So. No, the ins and outs, ups and downs of life with an ostomy and what it takes to manage it. One of my jobs here at better health is to help other people. Learn to adapt and thrive with her.

So today I’m here with Duncan and I’m asking him about his social support network. Do you have a social support network in place? Well, I do. And how do I reach out to them and let them know what they can do for me? And how much of this do I need to really know how to do for myself?

I’m so glad that you have a social support network in place. It’s really, really helpful to adjusting, to having a life with an ostomy. They can do a number of things for you, and it depends on what you’re comfortable asking and what you’re comfortable telling them. I know some people prefer to say they’re just having a surgery and some people are very comfortable with being open about what they’re experiencing and often you’ll find.

That people will say, oh, I know somebody else who had an ostomy and they’ll be able to relate. And they’ll be very open to hearing about your experiences as well. So one of the things that you could ask your social support network for is help with meals, delivering meals to you, or helping with some, you know, general household tasks.

Sometimes you need somebody to run to the store, go pick up your prescriptions. You know, do a load of laundry or maybe, you know, mop the floor or something at home that will make you feel more comfortable in your, your space while you’re recovering. Yeah, especially right after surgery. What is it that my social network and especially my wife, what should they expect?

Or. Be able to do with me to help me out. You have your wife at home, right? She’ll be your caregiver. Okay. So at home, your caregiver can do a number of things for you. One thing I want to let you know about is that often if you have a partner or a spouse somebody who’s been with you for a while and, and is going through this ostomy surgery with you.

They need an adjustment period to it. It can be scary and challenging for them in different ways. They are worried for you and stressed out by this change in your life. But if you give them time, often they adapt really. So your caregiver at home, your wife, like you said she can definitely expect some diet changes.

So if she can let her know how to help with that, she can expect a recovery time of usually around four to six weeks at home is when you start to feel better, start to want to resume your normal routine. It may take you up to six months or so. To really kind of be back on your feet on your feet. So you want to adjust, adjust expectations and, and be honest and have clear communication.

Another thing that your wife can expect is maybe some messages when we’re learning to use it, ask me products. Yes. Can get a little messy. Sometimes you might have unexpected leaks, especially at night though. You can have those, those leaks that pop up. So I would invest in it. A bed cover that you can wash and protect your mattress.

I’ve been there. We’ve gone through a couple of mattresses, so we’ve learned our lessons by ourself in our house. And you know, it just it’s day by day and your wife and you will, we’ll do great today. We’re on the subject. It’s kind of hard question. I know I have to take care of myself, but can she change the pouch for me?

She can change the pouch for you. And it’s often helpful if she knows how to do that. So you have a post-surgical complication and she might need you to advocate, or she might need to be your advocate. She might need to take care of you when you’re not able to maybe stand up and do it on your own.

But I highly recommend that you. Take the initiative and you know, exert your independence and be able to change the pouches because there could be situations where you’re by yourself and you don’t have anybody to change it for you. So and in which case, you know, you’re like, how do I use this product?

You know, how do I change it? How do I clean up? Why isn’t it sticking? So you, you should be the one to take your agency and make sure that you should have the ability to change your pouch. But of course if she wants to help and you need that help, I say, go for it. Well, that that’s all good and useful.

Thanks so much. Thank you Duncan. I’m so glad you’re open with me about what you need from your ostomy caregiver at home. For more ostomy tips and advice please join us with the rest of this video series or visit

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