Avalon Martin Retreat — A More Comfortable Toileting Option for Ostomy User

  • Tauira / Student
    Avalon Martin
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Stephen Reay

'Retreat' offers a more comfortable and dignified solution for patients with a stoma to use the toilet. Often considered a taboo subject, approximately 8,000 people live with a stoma in Aotearoa New Zealand. A stoma results from various factors such as bowel cancer, birth defects, or Crohn's disease.

Asides from general discomfort, ostomies can create challenges in completing daily tasks - especially when using the bathroom.

To better understand the experience of living with a stoma, I interviewed individuals who had undergone stoma surgery. These interviews included patients from different age groups as the age and duration of living with a stoma can influence perspectives on the subject. Through these conversations, I identified a need for a solution to help stoma patients empty their stoma bags multiple times per day. Critical design features of this solution had to be a familiar and friendly addition to a bathroom, while discreetly blending with the surroundings when not in use.

I had the opportunity to witness the challenges faced by ostomy patients first-hand. For patients with comorbidities (e.g. dementia, hip and knee replacements, arthritis) the drive to be independent with toileting is even more challenging. To gain personal insight into living with an ostomy I roleplayed using ostomy bags to simulate the daily inconveniences. I filled the ostomy bag with water and wore it daily, emptying it into the toilet from different positions, such as sitting, kneeling, and standing. Kneeling was the easiest for emptying the bag but was a difficult position to get up from (especially considering older adults) and requires a person’s face to be uncomfortably close to the toilet bowl. Based on this, I carefully considered how a design solution could allow the user to stand while providing a resting space for the bag. This helps to ensure precise emptying with minimal backsplash and maximum comfort.

The basin of 'Retreat' is designed at an angle to accommodate users of varying heights. Users can also install Retreat at their preferred height for personal use.

'Retreat' includes a self-sanitation flushing system. Upon closing the basin, a flush cycle runs after each use, ensuring a hygienic experience for the user. This eliminates the need for manual cleaning and reduces the risk of contamination, providing added convenience and peace of mind.

Overall, 'Retreat' hopes to create a comfortable and stress-free, and dignified bathroom experience for ostomy patients, simplifying the process of emptying their ostomy bags and improving their overall quality of life.