Hi everyone! Yesterday was the first meeting of the Hambleton and Richmondshire Ostomy Support Group! It has been in the works for a few months and has been a niggling thought in two fellow ostomate’s minds as well! I was so glad that I had other people to help expand this little idea of ours into a reality and you can too! (Do I care I’ve used a LOT of exclamation marks? nah I’m excited *insert cheesy grin*)
I got my partner in crime to take a photo of the think tank behind the group. We have from left to right Roland, me, Mary (SN), David and Judith (SN) we are very lucky to have been given lots of support from our Stoma Care Nurses and I’m sure David and Roland would agree with me in thanking them wholeheartedly.
We were worried obviously that people may not turn up but on the signing sheet there was about 24 of us which is an absolutely amazing turnout! Especially when booking our Local Town Hall I only ordered 20 seats! Not that it mattered as there was plenty of chairs available. 2 hours went incredibly fast but people happily filled in suggestions for future meetings and chatted. I met some pretty inspirational people and I look forward to chatting to more of them. When I looked around the room both David and Roland were deep in conversation too so it was really reassuring.
So how did we start the ball rolling? Well I believe the three of us each has mentioned on more than one occasion to our Stoma Nurses and they put us in a group email where we could secure a date to meet up and share our ideas. Prior to that I had looked up possible venue ideas/prices/availability and as arranged brought them along. David had a list of things you need to think about when setting up a support group (the Colostomy Association have a good one if you’re interested) and Roland gave us his experiences of running a support group in the past like what worked and what didn’t which is invaluable.
We came up with a name that wasn’t set in stone but is more than good enough for now, we also talked about the frequency of meetings and when was good for the five of us. We discussed how we were going to spread the word, our nurses came up with a flyer and asked the hospital distributor to do a mail-shot so anyone in the correct area received a flyer. Not to mention anyone that had an appointment was told about it, if you and I are linked on Facebook you will have seen me share it on there as well as my friends and relatives. We obviously booked a venue and decided we each were going to do a little introduction and then see how the mood was, but everyone was so caught up chatting with each other that whenever (I not going to lie I nominated him lol he is just so personable) David tried he was lost in a sea of chatter which we all agreed is better than silence!
I made a note of the suggestions that were written down and then I can add my own notes so when we have another meeting in a couple of weeks I wont forget with baby brain! It wasn’t nearly as stressful as I had been told it would be and I think if you are thinking of setting one up then as long as you have the support of your Stoma Nurses because it’s always nice to have someone who can help iron out any finer details if needed.
You may want to think about how you set the tables and chairs out, having a signing sheet (which also doubles up as a fire register) our venue wanted us to create a risk assessment so ask your Nurses if they have ever written one for open days etc, or delegate to someone you know will think about it logistically (that is definitely not me ha-ha) who will bring the refreshments and most of all listen to each other, talk everything out and don’t go ahead until you are happy. However don’t feel these things don’t apply if you don’t have an ostomy but want to do a support group for another illness etc because I’m sure other than how you get your word out it should be pretty similar to the way we did ours.
If you live in the Hambleton and Richmondshire area and have an ostomy for whatever reason or type and are on Facebook please feel free to join our support group here, we are looking to create a website with a log in and a forum for those who use the internet but don’t like Facebook too, so when that is ready I will update everyone.