hha colostomy bag change

Can a HHA Change a Colostomy Bag?

Changing colostomy bags is typically a part of the job description of a home health aide (HHA).

As a home health care provider, a HHA may regularly assist identified home health care patients with colostomy upkeep. They provide help with stoma and colostomy bag maintenance for patients at home.

In just about every state, registered nurses (RN) are allowed to delegate those tasks of ostomy care, such as skin care and changing appliances, to home health and home care aides.

The state board of nursing has a registry that enables nurses to list their own skills and those of their aides. This can be useful for patients or family members who are seeking advice on the care of a loved one who uses an ostomy appliance.

This is a “permissible” task as opposed to “permissible under special circumstances”.

What is a Colostomy?

hha stoma colostomy

A colostomy is an operation where the colon and the rectum are removed from the confines of the intestines. A new colon is created in the front region of the abdomen.

This new colon is called a “stoma”.

In other words, the stoma is the opening in the skin that the pouch attaches to. This is where the waste comes out. The stoma may be different sizes, depending on how much surgery was needed to create the ostomy.

The patient is attached to a bag that collects waste from the stoma. The bag is typically made of plastic and is connected to a drain, which empties it into a toilet or sink.

For many people, a colostomy is done because of a certain medical problem. Some unique medical conditions or circumstances may cause the need for this particular surgery, including business, digestive, or spiritual disabilities.

People who have been injured or who suffer from a health condition will often require a colostomy to facilitate their daily functions.

What is the role of a HHA in Colostomy care?

The main home-based medicine services for ostomy care involve maintaining a healthy stoma, emptying, and changing the bag or pouch. The HHA or home health agent is the one who cares for the patient in their home, and is responsible for providing education and training to the patient on how to care for themselves.

How to Properly Maintain the Colostomy

It is not hard to change a colostomy bag and it will get easier each time you do it.

Your RN will guide your through the process as a refresher from what you learned in your HHA training.

Also ask any questions you may have on the care of or changing the colostomy bag.

Changing a colostomy

  • assemble necessary equipment and supplies
  • position patient
  • remove wrapping from disposable items
  • measure stoma and cut faceplate to size
  • remove/apply ostomy belt and/or bags
  • apply prescribed medication, solvent, cleaning agent, wetting agent, etc. to applicator 
  • apply dressing
  • empty bags
  • dispose of used equipment and waste materials
  • clean reusable equipment
  • store reusable equipment properly
  • observe, record and report

Are You Handling an Ostomy Safely?

Dealing with human waste means dealing with ostomy fluid, so you’ll need to handle that carefully.

Always wear latex gloves when interacting with an ostomy outlet, and close it quickly after it has been used. Be sure to thoroughly clean the ostomy channel after every use. Pay close attention to the instructions included in the ostomy to be sure to use it properly and replace the gear as needed.

Dealing With the Emotional Toll of Having a Colostomy

It is important that as a home health care worker you are able to help your clients to establish healthy feelings around using an ostomy. Often, an ostomy brings emotional and mental negative reactions, and a home health care worker’s primary function is to help promote a happy, positive outlook on having an ostomy.

You will help your patients cope with the complications their ostomy will cause them and examine whether their families can participate in this effort. You should also involve the patient’s family if at all possible so that the patient can be better understood by them.

Yours, FREE!
What HHA’s CAN and CAN’T Do!

Download this brand new guide on what home health aides can and cannot do. The rules have changed so don’t get caught off guard. Know your limits and the law.

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