Trainee Nursing Associate Hannah Legg and the Colorectal and Stoma team at Yeovil Hospital are changing lives for patients living with a stoma bag.

Hannah’s compassion for her patients meant that when they spoke to her about their summer holidays and a number mentioned being sad they couldn’t go swimming, she knew she could make a difference; removing the stigma for stoma patients to be able to swim and be active, carrying on with life just a before.

One in 500 people in the UK have a Stoma bag fitted and, although often lifesaving, it can have a huge impact on each individual’s life and their confidence.

Hannah said: “I knew that it is completely safe for a patient with a stoma bag to swim, so I wanted to help give our patients the confidence to get back in the water, providing a safe environment in which we can remove the fear and empower them, while promoting exercise and mental wellbeing.”

With the support and encouragement of Clinical Nurse Specialist Julie Burton, Hannah approached the team at Goldenstones Swimming Pool in Yeovil. She set about training the pool staff, arranging for patients to have special permission to wear a tshirt in the pool if that made them feel more comfortable, and arranged for a swim session for patients with stoma bags fitted and their families or friends.

Hannah added: “The staff at Goldenstones have been so welcoming, providing the pool free of charge for an hour and letting us run general swimming and in February we will also have a kayaking session! It is brilliant to see the confidence building from the start of the session to the end.

“We perform between 80 and 90 stoma operations each year at Yeovil Hospital alone. Some will be temporary and others more permanent, but it is easy to feel alone as it isn’t something people talk about. These swim sessions are a fantastic opportunity for patients to talk to others going through a similar experience as the swim is followed by social time, and there are members of Yeovil Hospital’s stoma team at Goldenstones throughout the session to give advice and support in any way.”

The Stoma Swim Group takes place three times a year and is open to all ages with October’s event attracting swimmers ranging from four to 88 years of age.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Julie said: “Hannah is amazing and set this up completely through her own initiative and dedication. She has worked in the department for coming up to three years and is making such a difference for our patients. We have a patient in her 80s who didn’t feel that she’d ever be able to swim again, but the confidence Hannah gave her at the July session has meant that since then she has been attending aquafit twice a week. It really has changed her life.”

The next Stoma Swimming Group will take place on Saturday 8 February with swimming and kayaking from 3pm to 4pm and refreshments 4pm to 5pm. 

Following the success of our Stoma Swimming Group, Yeovil Hospital Colorectal and Stoma Care department are also offering patients a free two-hour session of yoga and therapeutic approaches for anxiety, stress, and fear on Wednesday 18 March 2020, 9.30am to 11.30am at The Manor Hotel, Hendford, Yeovil, BA20 1TG.

To book a place for swimming or yoga, please call 01935 384367 or email the team on

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