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APPs, COLOURS, EMOTIONS AND NARRATIVE IN OSTOMY: INTERVIEW WITH MARIA CRISTINA VENTAGLIO

This month we have the pleasure of hosting an in-depth interview in our magazine conducted together with Maria Cristina Ventaglio, marketing manager of Dansac Company, a company that deals specifically with products and devices in support of ostomate patients. Since 2015, the Company has been collaborating with the Healthcare Area of the ISTUD Foundation on narrative medicine projects aimed at ostomate patients, but also at professionals who take care of these people.

In particular, the collaboration has led to great results, including the creation of two APPs, designed and thought on the basis of the needs emerged from patients’, families’ and professionals’ narratives. One application is aimed at ostomate patients (the app colorE): it allows the patient to express how they feel through choosing a colour, an emotion in a particular moment of their life; it also allows them to narrate their experience associated with that moment. The other application is aimed at ostomy-therapists (the app stArt) and allows to know their patients’ emotional status, even at a distance. The app stArt indeed allows the professional to know which daily situations make the patient feel uncomfortable, and which opportunities make them feel good. In this way, they can support them to overcome the obstacles due to their condition, just when the patient seemed particularly fragile and vulnerable, relying particularly on those emotional aspects that had helped them overcome the discomfort.

– Can you tell us how the idea of developing APPs as “colorE” and “stArt” in the ostomy field was born, and with what goals? Why do you think a company like yours decides to support the development of such a particular application?

The mission of my company, Dansac, is to improve the lives of who live with an ostomy. The three pillars that sum up the identity of the Dansac brand are: “Ostomy-Skin-Soul”. Hence our commitment to providing comprehensive care for ostomy caregivers and healthcare professionals, and we believe in the effectiveness of a holistic approach. For us, people come before their ostomy, so since 2015, we have been working in collaboration with the Healthcare Area of Istud Foundation on projects aimed at improving patients’ care pathway, focusing on the soul aspect, the Soul. The idea for this new app was born within an innovative project that combines Narrative Medicine and Art Therapy with the aim of focusing on the person, their family, and on the emotional and psychological aspects that influence the rehabilitation process.

– In the APP colorE, we talk about emotions, colours and experiences. How important do you think these aspects are to the pathway of care?

They are fundamental because emotions and experiences are different for all of us, everyone lives the disease and the rehabilitation in a personal way. Being able to express them and knowing we are listened to could really make the difference, especially in an intimate relationship established between a person with an ostomy and an ostomy therapist nurse, usually seen as the guardian angel. Through our colorE app, patients can tell their story in a digital diary, communicate their feelings and associate them with a colour, while nurses can be helped by technology to be even closer to the people they care for through this tools.

– As regards using an APP to implement relationships, how much do you think technology really brings people together? How can we prevent this instrument from remaining cold?

I agree with you, the world we live in is increasingly Digital and technology is now part of our daily lives, but we certainly do not associate it with personal relationships and closeness. Our app, however, was created with this aim in mind: to facilitate communication and foster relationships. I think that sometimes, even if you need to, expressing your emotions can be difficult for someone, and in these cases, a tool like an app can use physical distance to break down barriers and connect emotionally.

– What is coming out of this project? Lights and shadows? How do we promote and customize the APP?

We are still in an experimental phase, we are talking about something extremely new for nurses, for patients, for ourselves and, in general, for the world of ostomy. It is therefore premature to draw any conclusions now. However, the very first results are positive and encourage us to continue investing in this direction. Innovation is not created from one day to the next, it requires passion, dedication and, above all, thinking out of the box, but we are there.

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Written by

Researcher at Healthcare Area of ISTUD Foundation. Master degree in Industrial Biotechnology at University of Milano-Bicocca, Post-graduate ‘Scienziati in Azienda’ at ISTUD Foundation. Expert in Medical Writing, especially in areas as the qualitative research and Narrative Medicine. She contributes to research and educational projects with the aim of improving the quality of life and quality of care of patients with chronicle or genetic diseases.

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