As is the case with most support groups, the Renfrew County Ostomy Support Group was born of necessity.
Historically, many ostomates in Renfrew County found very limited support mechanisms in place following their surgery. Patients often found themselves having to experiment and learn how to take care of themselves and their appliances. The only practical support in the field was from companies supplying ostomy appliances and from ostomy nurses in Ottawa – a long drive for many who weren’t always able to drive because of their health conditions.
This deficit in resources for Renfrew County caused serious problems for ostomates who needed help. With growing frustration and amidst strong feelings of isolation, a small group of ostomates came together to share their stories and to discuss the practices which allowed them to cope and to deal with the problems that made normal living very difficult. This peer network gradually expanded. It became clear that there was real benefit to the sharing of experiences and practices.
We Take A Personal
“We care” are not just words.
Call Louise Cracknell (volunteer)
In 2012, with much appreciated help from the already established Ottawa Ostomy Support Group, the Renfrew County Ostomy Support Group was formed as a grass roots organization to help patients cope with life altering conditions brought about through ostomy surgery. Some of the first members of the Core Group established to coordinate planning and implementation included Louise Cracknell, David Cracknell, Rick Power, Garwin Hartwig, Judith Hartwig, Lou Hammill and Margaret Anderson.
The group is not highly structured and does not have charitable organization status. Instead, it focuses on bringing ostomates together in semi-annual meetings to address problems, provide education and discuss experiences in a safe, non-judgemental environment. The meetings include helpful presentations from suppliers and health care professionals. The best outcomes have resulted from the informal discussions after meetings where ostomates benefit from the advice of peers who have already adjusted to life with an ostomy.
Practical help is provided through a system of clinics held throughout the county by qualified Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy and Continence (NSWOC). Historically, the clinics have been sponsored by suppliers and retailers. However, in 2018, the clinics were delivered by Carefor, Pembroke through funds provided by the Champlain LHIN. The Group also advocates for adequate financial support through mechanisms such as the Federal Accessibility Tax Credit and the Provincial Assistive Devices Program. An ongoing priority has been to increase awareness amongst health professionals of the day to day needs of recovering patients.
SOME CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE CORE GROUP
Louise Cracknell – Chairperson
Marg Anderson – member
Rick Power – member
Lou Hammill – member
Judith Hartwig – member
Barb Lapierre – member
Ken Lovely – member