8 Tips for Managing Tube Feeding at School
1. Know your School’s Policies
Every school has a policy regarding tube feeding support. Check with your school to determine what guidelines are followed when dealing with feeding tubes. Most children with feeding tubes will need an IEP or 504 plan that outlines their specific needs at school. Make sure to keep this information updated throughout the school year. Understanding your school’s procedures and ensuring all paperwork is filed will prepare you for a safe school year.
2. Meet with your Child’s Teacher
Meet with your child’s teacher one-on-one to discuss tube feeding. Give any necessary information and allow their teacher to ask questions. Make sure they are prepared and comfortable caring for your child at school. You can also talk about inclusivity to make sure your child doesn’t feel excluded from any activities.
3. Meet with the School Nurse/Aides
Meet with the school aide that will be performing your child’s feed. Leave them a contact list, in case they need to get in touch or have any questions. Getting to know your school aide will allow you to feel more supported and confident when your child is at school.
4. Educate on Equipment Use
Once you know who will be handling the equipment, make sure the school aide and involved staff know how to properly use all the equipment. Write down step-by-step instructions for your child’s feed. Be very specific! If necessary, write down the safety precautions including how to keep the equipment clean. When dropping off supplies, make sure all the equipment is clean and labeled properly. Talk with your school to determine where the equipment will be stored.
The Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation has great resources regarding feeding at school, such as a “comprehensive School Training Presentation for school nurses, teachers, aides, and other school staff.”
4. Determine Feeding Schedules
Determine the best time and location to perform your child’s feeding. Try to limit time away from the classroom, so your child doesn’t miss out on anything. Choose natural transition periods to perform the feed, such as bathroom breaks or time between activities.
5. Educate Students/Classmates
Educate classmates by sharing resources and talking openly about tube feeding. Think about scheduling a time to discuss tube feeding in your child’s classroom. If your child is comfortable, have them answer questions and show them the tube to encourage acceptance.
6. Prepare Backup Supplies
Have backup supplies for emergencies or mishaps. Talk to your school about having an “emergency kit” with extra supplies and clothes in case of leaks. Supplies to include in an “emergency kit” are:
- Feeding Bags
It is also a good idea to have instructions for common mishaps, such as clogs or intolerance.
8. Plan for Inclusivity
Talk to your health care provider about physical activity. Take precautions before participating by making sure the tube is secure. You may even want to wrap the tube site with an ace bandage or protective belt for extra protection.