In November, I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to visit the Welland factory in Crawley. Welland are the manufacturers of many of CliniMed’s stoma products, particularly their range of pouches.
Touring the Welland factory
At the factory reception, I met Loretta (Head of Patient Services) and Sarah (Digital Brand Manager) from CliniMed and SecuriCare and Jackie from the Ileostomy Association. We were introduced to Chris Primett, the Managing Director of Welland, who gave us an interesting presentation on the company’s development and how they came to be part of the CliniMed Group.
We then donned white coats and hats - we could set a new fashion trend with them! - before heading off into the factory, where we were shown around by Terry Moore (Senior Production Controller).
An eye opening experience
We saw each step in the production of ostomy bags, from the manufacture of hydrocolloid right through to the packing of the finished products. Terry’s knowledge and passion for his work was infectious and went a long way to making the tour so fascinating, whilst those working on the machines were very friendly and happy to chat to us about what they were doing.
On the day we visited there were colostomy bags being produced in a range of sizes. Seeing the tiny neo-natal bags was quite sobering and made me thankful that I was fortunate enough to have had two healthy babies. I also felt humbled after seeing just how much effort goes into producing our appliances, when there are people in other countries who still have to make do with plastic bags taped on to them.
Going the extra mile
I was amazed at just how much technology is involved in the production of ostomy appliances and began to appreciate how long it can take for new concepts to reach the production stage. Mark Newton (Development Manager) spoke to us about how new products come into being. I was impressed that Welland has such a patient-centered ethos, involving real people in different countries and talking to them about their needs and ideas, which are taken onboard. Developers go the extra mile by putting themselves as closely as they can in the position of a person with an ostomy: fixing appliances on to themselves and ‘using’ them for a week must have proved something of an eye-opener – especially changing them in public toilets!
The morning was very informative and, in parts, very emotional. I feel very privileged to have been able to visit. Thank you!