Survivor to Thriver

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We know that stoma surgery can have a profound effect on a person’s life and can cause significant changes in their daily routine, as well as impacting on their body confidence, self-belief, and ability to cope both physically and emotionally.

We also realise that individual responses to surgery can vary and are dependent on so many factors – for example was the operation an emergency, do they have their stoma as a result of a cancer diagnosis, are they more prone to anxiety and depression – all these things can play a major part in how well someone copes with what can be for many, a truly frightening experience.

When I was researching and developing this white paper on the psychological impact of stoma formation it became quite evident that whilst we have made huge advancements in products and services, unfortunately many patients continue to struggle with coming to terms and psychologically adjusting to their new life with a stoma. 

The white paper is entitled “Survivor to Thriver” and explores the 3 main elements which many ostomates struggle to cope with: 

  • Firstly, loss of control leading to a grieving process-How important it is that we validate the sense of loss of control that ostomates can feel after surgery. Giving them the language they need to express their feelings, as they navigate through a range of emotions from grieving and denial, through to ultimate acceptance.
  • Secondly, altered body image and loss of self-esteem. How crucial it is that we integrate mutual support, educational, and supportive interventions within each patient’s care plan to help address these issues.
  • And lastly intimacy and sexual healing. As stoma care nurses we need to be willing to acquire new skills through appropriate specialized training and education helping us address highly sensitive topics with our patients

To complement the white paper and these important discussions, I would also invite you to watch our series of 4 webinars in the links below which explore these key themes.  In each webinar you will hear from several international guest speakers, experts within their own specialist field, offering solutions to help us support our patients more effectively within their psychological recovery. Each webinar will hopefully include learnings which provide translatable skills to your current clinical practice.

Webinar 1:

Webinar 2:

Webinar 3:

Webinar 4:

Thank you for reading and please click here to download your copy of the white paper. You can also find out more on how our eakin dot pouches can help make ostomates feel more secure and confident to get on with their lives –

World Ostomy Day 2021

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Comber based international ostomy manufacturer, TG Eakin Ltd will help support and celebrate World Ostomy Day on 2nd October 2021. Part of the Eakin Healthcare Group, the well-respected family-owned manufacturer will promote the importance of the work undertaken by the International Ostomy Association by sharing the valuable views of a young ostomate from Northern Ireland.

In response to this year’s motto “ostomates rights are human rights – anytime and anywhere” TG Eakin will provide a platform for 26 year old Aneica Duffy to have a voice and help raise awareness of what is often referred to as a hidden disability.

“For those who are not in the ostomy community, there is a lot of stigma attached to stomas. But we are getting there and that’s because of people being more open about it, but we’ve still got a long way to go. It’s not just the elderly that requires a stoma, there are people of all ages. It doesn’t mean we are different, we just have to change a few things as to how we live.” Aneica Duffy

Aneica Duffy

Aneica had an operation to form a stoma when she was just 19 but wouldn’t have survived without surgery, visit our community to read her full story.

Eakin has been supporting people living with a stoma for over 40 years, the operation based in County Down employs 143 people from the local communities and more than 20 colleagues across six different countries.

TG Eakin’s Clinical Advisor Marie McGrogan says “A stoma can be formed at any age and involves surgery to create an opening in the abdomen in order to pass waste (stool or urine), requiring a stoma pouch to be worn. It is often a lifelong procedure which can impact all areas of a person’s life.”

Director of International Ostomy & Wound Janet Fairlie-Vogt adds, “the products and support we offer from Comber benefits ostomates all over the world, and World Ostomy Day is another great opportunity for us to support those living in the community”.

Director of International Ostomy & Wound

World Environment Day 2021

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Since the installation of the panels in April 2016 we crossed the 1 million KW milestone in April and have generated to date 1044468kw. This equates to an offset of 543 tonnes of CO2. We generate enough electricity to supply 20% of our total energy consumption in 2021 with another 44000kw left over to supply the grid.

*electricity generated over the last 5 years

Our main headquarters at Comber has been fitted with LED lights since 2019. LED lighting uses less energy for the same Lux lighting output, meaning less brown energy.

We are using the new 900m3 sprinkler storage tank to pre chill the water flowing through our chiller unit. This will reduce the amount of electricity used to bring the temperature down to the required level.

Other initiatives are in progress to reduce the specifications of raw materials and improve efficiencies to lessen the impact of our products on the environment over time.

Join our Facebook LIVE event – Take control of your stoma

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Join our Clinical Advisor, Marie McGrogan, as she hosts a LIVE session on our Facebook page on Wednesday 9th June at 2pm BST. Marie will be joined by special guest, Bronagh Starrs, Psychotherapist, and Luciana Podschun, an ostomate for 5 years.

We’ll explore feelings of loss of control following stoma formation, and how, like Luciana, you can ultimately feel in control and therefore change how you feel about your stoma.

Like us on Facebook and check our upcoming events to join!  We’ll see you there! 

Don’t worry if you can’t make the live session, as it will be available to watch following the event. 

Launch of the French subsidiary Eakin France SAS

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Eakin products have been helping ostomates in France for nearly 20 years.

In 2017 we decided the best way to bring our exciting new products to the French market was to do so directly. Since then, we have been building our knowledge, our distribution and, most importantly our team.

On 1st April 2021, a new TG Eakin subsidiary is born – Eakin France SAS.  Products are now sold in France via the newly created subsidiary of the Eakin Healthcare Group increasing our presence in France and the launch of new innovative products.

Eakin Healthcare Group acquires Armstrong Medical continuing an ambitious growth strategy

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Northern Ireland headquartered Eakin Healthcare Group has announced it is expanding into a new therapeutic area with the acquisition of Coleraine based Armstrong Medical, which specialises in respiratory care products. The deal represents a diversification for the Group which to date has specialised in ostomy and wound care products. 

The combined resources of the two indigenous NI healthcare manufacturing businesses will now help the Group to grow its domestic and international presence. The acquisition will be supported by an ambitious investment plan to enable further development of innovative medical products in Northern Ireland to meet the needs of patients worldwide.

Speaking about the acquisition, Jeremy Eakin, Managing Director of Eakin Healthcare Group said;

“This is a hugely important strategic acquisition of a well-established and successful Northern Ireland family business which has already made its mark on the global stage. We believe that with the combined resources and expertise of both businesses alongside our ambitious investment plans we can take Armstrong Medical to the next level and help it take advantage of new and exciting opportunities in the human healthcare market.  Both family-owned businesses share a common culture and philosophy, and we see many synergies which we believe will underpin the continued success of both brands. We welcome the entire Armstrong Medical team into the wider Eakin Healthcare Group and are delighted that some of the Armstrong family have agreed to stay on in various capacities to help us to continue to grow this business.

“We believe that Northern Ireland has already acquired a global reputation for excellence in healthcare innovation and manufacturing and that this deal will only serve to further reinforce that reputation around the world.”

Welcoming the deal, John Armstrong, Chairman, Armstrong Medical said;

“We are very pleased to have completed the sale of our business to the very successful Eakin Healthcare Group and believe it will deliver an important next chapter for Armstrong Medical.

The Armstrong family remain passionate about the business, its workforce and its position in the local community and are keen to see its continued success in the years ahead.

“We believe that this is best achieved with the support and investment from the new owners where they now have the opportunity to realise exciting growth opportunities within the sector.

“The fact that we are selling to another successful family-owned Northern Ireland business with a shared ethos and approach gives us great confidence. I and other family members will be pleased to continue to support the ongoing efforts to grow the business under the Eakin Healthcare Group banner.”

The acquisition takes immediate effect and there will be no change to company names or brands. All employees of Armstrong Medical will automatically transfer to the Eakin Healthcare Group.

How eakin® met the challenge of Covid-19

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We want to assure you that it is still business as usual at eakin®and that we are still making the products you rely on daily.

Managing Director, Jeremy Eakin, takes us on a factory tour to show you the changes we have put in place to create a safe environment for employees while we continue to produce and ship our products across the world.

We’re living in really challenging and interesting times around the world, as you will all well know.

A couple of days ago the headlines on the BBC news webpage was that a quarter of the world’s population was having their movements restricted due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.  Those are headlines that I never dreamt that I would see in my lifetime, and pose business challenges like we have never seen before.

But, we rise to the challenge and the challenge is to make sure our customers and our employees are safe, healthy and well supported during the challenging times.

It’s very much business as usual.  We are prioritisng our customers to  make sure that no matter what, they will continue to get their supplies as best we possibly can and we continue to manufacture full steam ahead to make sure there is no threat to that supply.

There’s not much happening in our offices but just because our offices are empty doesn’t mean to say that there is not a lot of work going on behind the scenes.

As far as possible all our staff who can work at home are doing so and very much business as usual.

For our keyworkers who we rely on to come to work each day we have really increased our hygiene and social distancing measures to make sure everyone stays safe and protected from the virus.

As you can see our warehouse has ample supplies of key raw materials.  In addition to having constructive ongoing dialogue with our major suppliers we have also proactively ensured there is 6-9 months stock of essential raw materials already safely in storage.

Purely as a precautionary measure we have increased our working hours to make sure stock is available for anyone who needs it.  But as you can see, our production lines are working as normal, manufacturing the products you rely on each day.

We continue to dispatch all your orders as normal.  We currently do not have any back orders and do not envisage that situation changing as long as everyone remains calm and reassured that we’ve got your needs covered.

The A Bigger Life community is ready and waiting for you to ask questions, get advice or just say hello and chat to other ostomates.  You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for tips and inspiration.  Or if you need product specific advice, take a look at the help and advice section on our website,  Although it might take a bit longer, you can still request sample products through the website.

Hopefully by seeing around our premises today and witnessing the busy factory, full of employees and full of products being made, packaged and orders being shipped out the door, it will give you some reassurance that it is very much business as usual despite half of our employees actually not being on site.

We’re using the best of technology to ensure you that get what you need but at the same time keeping our employees safe and protected as far as possible from the virus.

Take care of yourselves, wash your hands, keep your distance.  Contact us if there I anything we can do to support you during these challenging times.

New way of interacting with stoma patients during Covid-19

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Stoma nurses around the world share their personal stories with us about how they are being impacted and coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thank you to all our nurses who have shared their personal story with us.

Kate, Ireland

Margarete Germany 

Thank you

A sincere thank-you to all the healthcare professionals around the world who continue to work tirelessly during these unprecedented times.

How Stoma Nurses around the world are being impacted by and dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic

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Dutch Stoma nurses

Stoma nurses around the world share their personal stories with us about how they are being impacted and coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thank you to all our nurses who have shared their personal story with us.

A message from a WOCN with 20 years career, Japan

We share the experience of Japan and our hospital with stoma care nurses all over the world.

At our facility, we reduced the basic routine follow-up of stoma outpatients during the period between the government’s declaration of an emergency and the subsidence of community-acquired infections. For those who have no problems with stoma care, we responded by telephone consultation or postponed hospital visit until the infection subsided, and direct care was reduced by 80%.

When going out and contacting many people, ostomates are concerned about infection before going to hospital, fear of infection in hospital, and infection from asymptomatic outpatients and medical staff.

In particular, it is necessary to take measures in consideration of the fact that excrement produces aerosols that are considered to be at risk of infection, and that stoma outpatient department is at risk.

When dealing with excrement under the COVID-19 regulations in the hospital, PPE is used appropriately according to the prevalence of community-acquired infection. There were restrictions on the use of masks and gowns during the first wave, but I took care while anticipating that sufficient measures could not be taken in the future.

In Japan, Japanese Society of Stoma and Continence Rehabilitation (JSSCR) announced early the guideline for stoma care against the spread of COVID-19. This has been a very helpful guide for us in our daily clinical care with anxiety.


COVID-19 is a catastrophe that exceeds the natural disasters that Japan often experiences. Stoma care is care in a closed room environment that deals with the excretion as a potential source of aerosols. You must understand and care for the situation and risks.

COVID-19 will change the way the stoma care outpatient works.

However, what is important is not to do it because there is a risk of infection, but to think about the timing of the infection situation and how to deal with it.

I would like to continue to evolve by providing care that allows ostomates to live with peace of mind and constantly devising ways and methods for medical staff to provide safe care.

Miki Masada, Japan

I am working for the hospital located in Kagawa in Shikoku Island in Japan designated for infectious diseases. 

Thank you to all the medical practitioners around the world who are working hard every day to combat COVID-19. In my hospital, the ward that had been set up for treatment of Covid-19 patients has now closed and returned to a general ward just a few days ago. There were 28 infections and 0 deaths in our area. It may have been reduced because of the countryside area where we are located, in an island country.

Both doctors and nurses have worked hard for patients. We WOCNs opened the windows of the outpatient office as shown in the photo and attached a shield to protect themselves from infection while taking care of the patient to minimize patient anxiety. Even in such a situation, one day a patient gave me a present. It was some handmade masks, made by my patient who is currently going through cancer treatment. The masks have cute designs and even a lace ‘celebrity’ one. What a lovely gesture! It was a moment of pride and joy to be a nurse.

The infection is not over, but let’s overcome this difficult time! A happier life is waiting for you. We are looking forward to sharing this information with friends around the world!

Shinobu, Japan

Invisible COVID-19 has put the people of the world in fear and continues to bother people secretly and repeatedly.  At Specialist Nurse Outpatients Consultation Dept for Stoma / Wounds / Incontinence, I am working with patients at the limit of in-contact care by carrying out more careful infection prevention than the usual hand-washing to avoid 3Cs1), Closed spaces with poor ventilation, Crowded places with many people nearby and Close-contact setting such as close-range conversations.

Some patients change or cancel appointments due to concern about infection.  Reduced number of patients visit with appropriate protective measures. We are also providing telephone consultations and instruction.  We are aware of the importance of practising daily temperature measurements, enforced gargling after returning home and during work and information collection to avoid risks.  Triage is regarded as a shared task among all staff of our hospital.  We are wiping the beds, doorknobs, chairs, etc. every time a person leaves to prepare for the next patient.

People are cautious and are slowly moving forward to end COVID-19 infection along with the rest of the world.  As well as taking a fighting stance, everyone, including myself, is taking good care of our own health. Japan-One-Team is battling adhering to handwashing, wearing of infection preventing masks and distancing from people avoiding 3 Cs. 

I think that we are now at the crucial time. I can only thank the medical staff who are united in providing treatment and care on site.  So, we have to refrain from unnecessary and non-urgent going-out and we make one wish to end the historical medical crisis in the middle of this disaster.

*The below is a moment when I felt that an even greater sense of accomplishment than normal. I cared for a coronavirus patient who had been managed with enteral nutrition and experienced skin trouble after continued diarrhea. The skin condition was improved after usage of the powder and paste skin protectors I applied. I could make use of knowledge/technique as a certified nurse!               

1)Note: “Avoiding 3 Cs” is a catchphrase for prevention of Covid-19 infections spoken in Japan

Pascale, France

I have been practising at Groupe Hospitalier du Havre Jacques Monod since 2003 as a stoma nurse / ET nurse. The health crisis due to this coronavirus has forced the hospital to think about a new institutional organisation. All surgical operations have been cut back which therefore has an impact on stoma-care services.

For my part, I have continued to carry out my work in the Department of General Surgery, as we have had some new stoma patients that were operated as emergency procedures. All outpatient consultations in stomacare have been cancelled. Follow up of stoma patients is necessary and is carried out by phone and by digital means.

During the initial stages of the confinement, I stayed at my home. I became more and more anxious as I listened to the media, informing the population about the danger of the virus. I became so worried about passing it on to my family and worried about returning to work. When I did go back, full of apprehension, I realised that everything had been put in place to work together with colleagues in a serene

It is important to follow the recommended measures to avoid the spreading of the virus.

Marjolein Visser, Stoma- and woundcarenurse, St. Jansdal Hospital Harderwijk, The Netherlands

The impact of Covid-19 is that it’s a quiet outpatient clinic at the moment, in a desolated hospital: we work alone, eat alone, have meetings by phone and miss close contact with colleagues and patients. Only a lot of calls and email contact with patients. It needs a lot of new skills and energy in this practical field, to explain the situation to the patient. The heat of the masks is hard and not knowing which colleague is behind the mask is very intimidating.

Personally I wonder how we have to adjust our work to the 1,5 mtr society and when will life be “normal” again?

 What did we learn from this situation? Is there a possibility we will increase digital contact with patients – via video-call to inform the patients and use of instruction movies will increase? Perhaps there can be more E-health solutions for ostomy’s, their caregivers and professionals.

Olga Ostendorf Ruymbeke, Urology, Continence & Stoma nurseTWB, Homecare Roosendaal, The Netherlands

At the moment, the focus inside and outside the organisation is about COVID-19. It’s almost like no other care is provided. It is noticeable that colleagues contact me less frequently if there are problems in for example ostomy care. The number of requests for my support are decreasing. That’s a pity for ostomates who experience problems.

A nice extra however, is that I can be part of the Viral team. The Viral team gives care to clients who are suspected of COVID-19 contamination or have tested positive for COVID-19. The care is given at their homes, in their own familiar environment. 

I’m glad that I can contribute to care for COVID-19 contaminated clients. But at the same time, I’m worried about clients with a request for support that will not reach me.

Airis Fakirmohamed, Ostomy nurse Beatrix Hospital, Gorinchem, The Netherlands

At the Beatrix Hospital, I work as an ostomy nurse in the outpatient clinic as well as a general nurse on the surgical ward. With COVID-19, this ward became a specific location for Corona patients. In March, I worked all my hours on this Corona ward.

Although I was afraid (I have a 12 year old daughter, will she be safe enough? Will I contaminate the people I love?), I feel I had to do this. It’s my job and these patients need us. Working on the Corona ward is hard. It’s a nasty virus and it’s unpredictable in it’s development. I’ve seen more people die than I’m used to and protective clothing is really hard to work in.  As a result of doing this work, I had to keep social distance with my daughter and family to protect them. An enormous sacrifice! 

Now I’m back again in ostomy care. My contact with ostomates is via phone or mail as much as possible. Most ostomates are high risk patients and it’s important that they don’t visit the hospital to avoid risk of contamination. Hopefully this will all change for the better soon.

Nadège, France

When we enter the patient’s room we wear a mask, glasses, hygiene cap, overalls and apron. This uniform is very hot. We change hygiene cap and apron between each room. We take time to change, to wash our hands and we use a lot of equipment. 

My surgery unit became a Covid unit. We have 24 patients in my unit. My work is different because consultations are forbidden. I follow up patients by phone and by email. If they need some advice, they contact me. They send me a photo of their stoma or wound and I give them advice. I send them a prescription by email or fax. 

I also help my colleagues in the Covid unit too. I’m in charge of the phone because the patients families call a lot as visiting is prohibited. I disinfect doors, computers and phones a few times a day. I put away the medicine and the equipment.

Best regards and stay safe.

Kitty, The Netherlands

The work is different, there are some adjustments, but we are still trying
to help our patients, even with the ‘Corona clothes’. For instructions we
are using a lot of Facetime or Skype when the family is not allowed to be
with the patient.

I wish everyone good luck, good health and keep smiling.

Alison, UK

“At the beginning of March University Hospital Birmingham was preparing for the Virus, all visitors were stopped and clinics were all held over the telephone, obviously this involved giving cancer diagnosis and so telephone follow up for the patients from the Colorectal Nurses was paramount. Walking into the Hospital was slightly eerie as there was no one other than staff in the corridors and on the wards. One of the wards has an 8 bedded High dependency unit at the very end as a separate ward (ITU is a separate ward completely). Over a matter of a week the general ward was transformed into an ITU with ventilators at every bed allowing 28 more ventilators.

In mid-march I was as usual working on the wards teaching patients how to care for their stomas so we could get them home and free up beds. All cancer surgery was postponed to free up beds too. Then I became unwell, high temperature, cough, sore throat and generally feeling the worst I have ever felt in my life. The first two weeks are all a bit of a blur I felt so unwell. I have a colleague that helps me in the
community and she was following up patients that had been discharged home over the telephone.

Now fully recovered Alison is assessing options for the most appropriate way to return to work.

Karen, Switzerland

Routine check-ups for stoma patients have been cancelled. I have been giving advice over the phone and some patients have sent me photos of their stomas. Otherwise I am doing more wound care, even routine dressings, to help my colleagues in the different health centres.

Margarete – Germany

Caring for patients even during this time of COVID- We work together and I do what I can! My part is to assist in ostomy and wound care in various departments. 

Since the start of COVID-19 I have taken over the shifts of an older colleague, who is considered at risk, and so have not been working in my usual role as a WOCN. As lots of operations have been cancelled, the workload in stoma therapy has also decreased a little. 

I’m now working in the area of visceral surgery after being away from this work for many years.

Thank you

A sincere thank-you to all of the nurses who took the time to share their stories with us and to all the healthcare professionals around the world who continue to work tirelessly during these unprecedented times.

eakin® and Healthy Kidz partner up to increase children’s physical activity

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healthy kidz charity

eakin® have recently joined forces with the successful physical activity programme, Healthy kidz. The programme is currently deployed in almost 100 schools throughout Northern Ireland. It provides a non-sport-specific, four-stand programme aimed at increasing physical activity, fitness levels and general health of children across schools.


Unfortunately as a result of the current Covid-19 pandemic that we all find ourselves in, schools worldwide have shut and social distancing measures put in place. This hasn’t stopped Healthy Kidz from delivering their programme to families on a global scale.

What is the healthy kidz global challenge

The challenge calls on families around the globe to get involved and increase their levels of activity through daily physical and fun challenges that can be logged on the Healthy Kidz app.

Along with logging activity points for any type of activity, they can also add additional details with regards to healthy eating and sleep too.  Families can compete against each other and others from all over the world. 

Every week a new set of 7 day challenges and tips will be available on the Healthy Kidz social media channels.  Any user who manages to complete the 7 Day Streak is entered into a weekly competition to win some great prizes.

For more information about Healthy Kidz or to sign-up for its Global Challenge, visit: