September 1, 2016
It’s September, and kids are back in school! For children with a feeding tube, there are some important and necessary steps to take to ensure that their feedings are accomplished at school. Here are some of the steps to plan for:
Obtain the needed documentation
All school districts require a signed doctor’s order and dietitian’s note specifying the child’s tube feeding plan and needs. If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), you would want to make sure any accommodations that need to be made around their feeding or tube care are specified in it.
Train the teacher, school nurse, and other staff
Depending on the school and classroom, it may be a teacher, nurse, or aide that helps administer your child’s feedings. It is recommended to schedule a meeting with all parties who will be involved with the feedings. During this meeting, train the staff on all aspects of the feeding, including what to do if the tube is pulled out. Your school nurse or administrator can help identify if the school has any policies around tube replacement.
Provide educational information on how to operate the feeding pump, if applicable, proper use of feeding tube and formula, as well as the parent or caretaker’s phone number. Epic Medical Solution dietitians may also be able to help with training if needed, but parents should be involved to facilitate open communication.
Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit
In addition to sending your child’s daily formula, pump set, pump, and syringes, you will need to create a 3-day emergency supply kit to be kept at school for the year. We suggest that you consider including:
- 3 days worth of formula – replace as needed for expiration
- An emergency tube for patients with NG tube or button
- Extension sets for buttons
- Dressing changes (gauze and tape) if needed
- Syringes for flushing and for inflating button if needed
- Three gravity bags (for pump or gravity users)
- Pouches or bottle of safe drinking water
- Extra clothes for your child
Prepare your child and other children in the class
Make your child aware of the plan for feeding at school. Empower and encourage them to help with feedings if they are able and to communicate with those helping them. If you feel it is helpful, discuss how other children may react to your child’s feeding method and prepare them with ways to respond. Depending on the classroom situation and your comfort level, you may wish to provide a brief orientation explaining what tube feeding is, for the other children in the classroom. Feel free to ask us at Epic Health Services should you need help finding resources to do this.
Check in with the teacher and other staff assisting soon after school gets started to make sure things are going smoothly. Regular communication will help ensure your child has the best experience possible while tube feeding at school!