Sometimes we keep too much “stuff” around, and sometimes that stuff includes ostomy supplies. Many ostomates hold onto extra supplies until they pass their expiry date (yes, ostomy supplies DO expire), or we throw out perfectly good products that are of no use to us. I don’t think this is a huge problem in Canada, as we have to pay for supplies and tend to hang onto what we have, but there are many people who’ve had a temporary stoma or receive scheduled supply deliveries, so they’ll likely have a lot of unneeded products piling up in a drawer or closet somewhere in their home.
Here are some ideas to help put those supplies to good use:
- Ask a friend if they can use them. Chances are, you likely have other ostomate friends (especially if you’re part of a local ostomy group). Some might be using the same products you have, so ask if they’d like to take any extras off your hands. This can also be a great time for them to try products that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get samples of.
- Donate those supplies! There are several international aid organizations that will accept unused medical and ostomy supplies. Here are a few, but you can likely find others in your country by doing an internet search.
- Friends of Ostomates Worldwide USA http://www.fowusa.org/donatesupplies.php
- Stoma Aid (UK) http://www.colostomyassociation.org.uk/index.php?p=233&pp=189&page=Stoma%20Aid
- Friends of Ostomates Worldwide Canada http://www.fowc.ca/donations/
- Osto Group (USA) https://www.ostogroup.org/donations
- Jacob’s Well Appeal (UK) http://jacobswellappeal.org/get-involved/donate-items/
- GoodHealthwill (USA) http://www.goodhealthwill.org/
- Med-EQ (USA) http://www.med-eq.org/
- Ask your local ostomy support group. Many groups will take in unused supplies to give to members who may not be able to afford the cost of purchasing wafers, pouches or accessories.
- Ask your ET nurse. Sometimes, your ostomy nurse will have patients who are struggling to afford new supplies. See if they’ll take your unwanted stuff.
- Contact your local hospital. Depending on the hospital, they may be able to use unopened supplies, or they might have an ET nurse on staff that can use them.
- Contact a local nursing school. This tip came from a Twitter comment, but nursing schools may still be able to use unwanted products (expired or not, open package or not) to help teach their students. Thanks, @!
- Give them away or sell them online. I’ve seen many free ostomy supplies on sites like Kijiji or Craigslist, and you’ll be able to freely advertise that you’re looking to get rid of some unused ostomy supplies. There’s no problem with trying to sell those supplies, especially if they were an out-of-pocket expense to begin with.
- Check with your supplier. If you have unused products that you simply ordered too much of, you might be able to get credit for stuff you’ll actually use. Keep in mind that your supplier may require that you do this within a set amount of time after your order was received, but many will go by the expiry dates on the supplies you want to send them.
- Check your expiry dates before donating or offering your supplies.
- Offer supplies that are still in their sealed package, if possible. Hollister and ConvaTec (and many other brands) sell their wafers in individually sealed packages, while some other brands package their wafers loosely in a single box. Most won’t mind getting those loose products, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to giveaway a half-used bottle of pouch deodorant since there’s no way of knowing how “fresh” products like that are once their seal has been broken. Many of the charities won’t accept liquids or aerosol products.
- Depending on the supply, you may want to hold onto it a little while longer, to be sure that you’ll never need it again. This would seem to contradict the whole idea of getting rid of your stuff, but when I received Eakin rings in error (and was told I could keep them), I tucked them away, and months later needed to use them.
- While it’s nice to be able to send free products to someone, you shouldn’t feel obligated to flip the shipping costs. Ask the recipient if they wouldn’t mind covering the shipping, or offer to cover them yourself if you’ve been offered supplies.