Learn about feeding tube care at home with Jaga-Me
It is never easy to see a family member living at home relying on a feeding tube. A feeding tube (or nasogastric tube) is often required for patients who have difficulty swallowing due to various medical conditions. This allows them to receive the necessary nutrients in a safe way. First time caregivers in particular, may find feeding tube management or caring for patients with feeding tubes challenging.
At Jaga-Me, we believe in empowering caregivers to care for their loved ones.
How often should I change the feeding tube?
Hygiene is of utmost importance when it comes to feeding tube care at home. Refer to the table below to know when to change out feeding tubes.
|Material of feeding tube||Change tube every:*|
|Short-term (less than 3 weeks)||Plastic||7 days|
|Long-term (more than 3 weeks)||Silicone e.g. Corflo, Kangaroo||4 to 6 weeks|
*Do check the manufacturer’s note for exact recommendations.
Syringes should be washed with water (do not boil) and thoroughly dried after each use. They should be changed every 2 to 3 days, and more frequently if there are visible marks in the syringe.
Tube Feeding Checklist
Caring for your loved ones who rely on a feeding tube can be challenging and demanding at times, but having a checklist on hand can be helpful on busy days at home.
- Check that the micropore securing the tube is intact and has not shifted.
- Measure the exposed length of the tube. It should be the same as the exposed length when the feeding tube was first inserted. Some tubes have numeric markings for reference.
- Check the pH of the gastric content (aspirate).
- Using an alcohol swab, clean the exterior of the spigot (cover of the exposed end of the feeding tube).
- While kinking the tube, remove the spigot and clean the opening of the tube with an alcohol swab.
- Insert the syringe (with plunger) into the opening of the tube. Release the kink.
- Pull the plunger back gently till some gastric content is seen (usually colorless or green-yellow color).
- If no gastric content can be seen, lean the patient to the left. Wait for 5 minutes and reattempt to collect gastric content. If there is no gastric content again, pump 10ml of air and try again. If there is still no gastric content, put 10ml of cool boiled water into the syringe and through the feeding tube. Wait for 5 minutes and attempt again. If this last attempt is unsuccessful, contact your home nurse.
- Observe the gastric content. The color should be colorless or yellow-green with some mucus strands. Semi-digested milk curds can be seen as well.
- Pour the gastric content over a pH paper and compare the result to a pH chart. It should be between pH 1-6. *check the recommended pH range with your doctor, as your loved one may be taking some medication that could affect the pH of his gastric content*
- You may feed your loved one if the pH is between 1-6 and the appearance of the gastric content is normal.
How can Jaga-Me help?
Expert tips from a Jaga-Me Nurse
- To prevent the exposed length of the feeding tube from flopping around, you may use a claw-shaped hair clip to clip the end of the tube to your loved one’s shirt.
- Excess milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours (it helps to label the can/packet of milk with the opening date & time). Sit the can of milk in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes to warm the milk. Check the temperature of the milk against your inner wrist before feeding your loved one.
- Encourage your loved one to practise swallowing while feeding through the feeding tube. This helps them to maintain their swallowing muscles.
- Always mix the milk powder with water and sieve it to prevent clumping.
If you are facing difficulties with feeding tube care at home, feel free to approach any of our healthcare professionals. We will be more than happy to help you with changing the feeding tube among other medical procedures that your loved one might need. Find out more about our services today.