New national helpline for families affected by bowel and bladder dysfunctions

A new national helpline has been launched to support families across the UK with children affected by incontinence issues.

The Junior Ostomy Support Helpline (JOSH), recently launched by the Colostomy Association, is a free, confidential and 24-hour helpline set up to provide support for parents of children who have had bladder or bowel surgery resulting in a stoma or bladder augmentation. JOSH aims to fill a gap in the services available to families with these issues, with an estimated four children born each day in the UK who will be affected.

All JOSH helpline volunteers are themselves parents of children with bowel or bladder dysfunctions allowing all callers to speak to fellow parents who have experienced the same challenges as themselves. Every volunteer has been extensively trained by both the Colostomy Association and paediatric nurses, enabling them to provide emotional support, information and advice.

Children affected by these issues often experience isolation, embarrassment and bullying. JOSH founder and Colostomy Association trustee, Wendy Hetherington, set up JOSH to help parents cope with the incontinence issues their children may have to deal with: “Having worked with families affected with a stoma for over thirteen years, I knew there was a desperate need for a service like JOSH to support children through the daily challenges they might face.”

“One of the most commonly asked questions from parents was – ‘Can I talk to another parent who has dealt with the same issues I am having?’ Therefore, it was vital that JOSH be staffed entirely by volunteers who themselves have experienced many of the difficulties and issues that their callers are facing from problems in school to arranging sleepovers.”

Speaking about why he chose to volunteer for the helpline; JOSH dad, Neale said “When our son was born with bowel issues we really wanted to speak to parents that had been in a similar situation. When we heard of JOSH we realised that this was a great way for us to help others by passing on our experiences to those that may be going through the same situation.”

JOSH is run through the highly-regarded Colostomy Association helpline which is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. The helpline is a much-needed source of information, advice and support for families affected by a stoma, bowel or bladder dysfunctions or incontinence.