Hearing your child needs a feeding tube is scary in itself. Realizing you’ll be expected to use this tube at home, without a medical professional, can be terrifying! With all the new skills to learn and instructions to remember it can be very overwhelming for a parent or caregiver. At first, the act of tube feeding a child can seem more complicated than it really is. Don’t get me wrong, there is a learning curve. However, once you learn how to safely use a feeding tube, it becomes easier the more you do it.
To start off on the right foot, it is important to have a good support system. This includes a helpful durable medical equipment (DME) company. As a dietitian for such a company, I have seen and helped countless families navigate the unfamiliar territory of learning how to operate a feeding pump. My job is to educate the patient and family regarding their feeding order, review what kind of equipment is needed and show them how to use it. I go over what to expect at home, possible complications and when to reach out for help.
I’ve had families ask me countless questions, families who have videoed me teaching them so they can reference it later, and some who have written pages of notes to help understand the process. There is no wrong way to learn! It’s a success if, after I’m finished, each person feels confident they can replicate the process at home. Nearly everyone I have met is a little nervous about the situation. That is a completely normal feeling.
We offer ongoing support throughout the whole process and that tends to help relieve some of the apprehension for most families. It’s important to find a DME company that has continual support like our 24-hour nurse help line, because more often then not, questions will come up once the family is home.
Tube feeding isn’t a one size fits all. There are so many different regimens and formulas as well as many different home life situations. I have not met two families that are alike. Each family has their own way of learning and that’s what makes my job so fun! There is no greater feeling for me than walking out of a patient’s room, knowing I made a difference in that family’s tube feeding journey.
Melissa Anderson, RDN
Aveanna Healthcare Medical Solutions