Your child suffers a catastrophic brain injury and can no longer swallow food. After months of institutional care, your physician, the social worker, the discharge planner, and the case manager sit with you and suggest that you take your loved one home. What do you need to make this a success?
1. Your child must be medically stable – free of infections, pain under control, and fluids and electrolytes correctly balanced.
2. You have to have the funds to be able to pay for the nutrition – your insurance plan should cover this cost.
3. You have to be willing to care for your child at home. You should have others in addition to you who know how to manage the care needs. You will need relief or respite. Visiting nurses will not come on a daily basis to give tube feeding.
4. Your child needs someone who will prescribe the tube feeding. This can be a physician or nurse practitioner who will order the nutrition and order blood tests to observe your child’s response to the feeding.
5. You will need a company to mix up and deliver the nutrition.
6. You will need education to learn how to give the nutrition, how to give medications, and how to recognize and report complications.
This is a big job for a parent to take on. You will need support from others to carry on this demanding role.