Stoma Appliance Scheme – COVID-19 – Update
Ostomates may be concerned about the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the Scheme and their ability to access the products needed. Since early 2020, the Department has been working closely with the Australia Council of Stoma Associations (ACSA) in monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on ostomates and access to Scheme products. Together, we are resolving issues as they arise, to ensure that the distribution of stoma-related products to ostomates is unaffected.
At this time, stoma-related products in Australia are available as needed. We do encourage ostomates to allow a little more time when ordering stoma-related products. This will allow for the greater volumes of parcels Australia Post is delivering nationally, which may cause increases to usual delivery times. Please note that parcels for ostomates are marked as ‘essential medical supplies’ and we have been working with Australia Post to ensure packages are prioritised.
If you have remaining concerns, you may be eligible to order two months of products at a time. Two month ordering is available to any ostomate who has had their stoma for six months. Note, the cost of postage may be higher for this larger parcel. Some ostomates are also eligible for higher individual quantities of products, where there is a demonstrated clinical need, please speak to your Stomal Therapy Nurse (STN), colorectal surgeon or General Practitioner (GP) about this and to complete the required approval form. Please also contact your Stoma Association for more information.
You can find further information about the current status of ostomy product supplies, Australia Post deliveries and Stoma Associations on the ACSA website
About the Scheme
The Stoma Appliance Scheme (SAS), established in 1975 and subsidised by the Australian Government, provides support to people with a stoma by improving access to the most suitable and clinically appropriate stoma related products. A stoma is a temporary or permanent body opening, either natural or surgically created, which connects a portion of the body cavity to the outside environment to allow bodily waste to leave the body. The point of exit or stoma, needs to be covered with a removable pouching system (adhesive or mechanical) to collect and contain the output for later disposal.
Products supplied under the Scheme assist people affected with stomas to better manage their condition, and allow greater participation in the society and workforce. These products are provided free of charge through 21 regional stoma associations across Australia. Approximately 45,000 people with stomas access SAS products through stoma associations. The stoma associations purchase stoma related products from suppliers and distribute to their members as required.
The choice of products which a person uses is guided by a Stomal Therapy Nurse (STN) who is specifically trained to advise on the use of stomal products following colostomy or ileostomy surgery. The STN will select and discuss products they feel are appropriate for the person with a stoma taking into consideration their lifestyle requirements.
Outcomes of consultation to understand ostomates’ views on services and supply
In late 2019, the Department sought feedback from ostomates and other stakeholders on access to products under the Stoma Appliance Scheme (the Scheme). The feedback provided will inform potential improvements to ensure ostomates continue to have access to the products and support services they need to manage their stoma.
The Department received over 2,000 responses to the consultation. The Department has now collated, reviewed and analysed the feedback which is now provided in the Stoma Appliance Scheme Consultation Outcomes document.
Stoma Appliance Scheme Consultation Outcomes (PDF 791 KB)
Stoma Appliance Scheme Consultation Outcomes (Word 201 KB)
The feedback provided through the consultation indicates that most ostomates are receiving the products and support they require under the program. However, responses provided also identified a number of key areas where improvements could be made to the program.
The Department thanks all ostomates and other stakeholders of the Scheme for their support of the consultation. If you have any additional comments after reading the Stoma Appliance Scheme Consultation Outcomes document, please email the Stoma team
Request for Expressions of Interest for Product Distribution and Ostomate Support
While most responses to the consultation were positive, common themes raised during consultation with respect to potential improvements to the delivery of the Scheme included:
- the need for a more consistent approach to ordering and distribution arrangements, including access to an online ordering capability, for ostomates
- accessibility, including (cost) equity for ostomates based on their individual living and financial circumstances (currently ostomates receive products free, but pay an annual Association membership fee and monthly postage costs); and
- the need for more comprehensive and accessible education about effectively managing a stoma and information about the Scheme.
You can read the full summary of the consultation outcomes in the section above
To identify potential options to address this feedback, the Department issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) through AusTender, on 23 October 2020 which closed on 18 November 2020. The REOI sought proposals around a future-focused service delivery model to support ostomates through:
Ostomates should note that there will be no changes to the Scheme as a result of this process. The Scheme is operating as per usual, and the Guidelines remain in force.
- improving the distribution arrangements for ostomates; and
- increasing support for ostomates through education, peer-to-peer support and greater involvement of their healthcare team in making decisions around the most appropriate stoma products for the individual.
The purpose of the REOI is to gather information only. The Department is not planning to make any changes to the way the Scheme operates at this time. Any changes to the Scheme as a result of a (future) tender process requires Government consideration and information about any changes would be communicated to all ostomates and other stakeholders well in advance to ensure understanding of implications or any changes in supply arrangements.