Supporting parents through grief and inclusion: Feeding Tube Awareness week

Feeding Tube Awareness 2024

During Feeding Tube Awareness week (4-10 February), we aim to raise awareness and understanding of the day-to-day impact of tube feeding on individuals, carers and families through the work of our therapists

Yooralla’s highly skilled therapists work with children and their families for all their speech pathology needs, including those related to feeding tubes.

Brie King, Senior Clinician, Speech Pathologist at Yooralla, has valuable experience in the prescription and ongoing management of feeding tubes for children and supporting parents on their child’s tube-feeding journey.

Prescribing feeding tubes for children

“There are many reasons why some children may require a feeding tube, including dysphagia,” said Brie.

“Dysphagia is common in a variety of disabilities, such as cerebral palsy (CP), and Speech Pathologists assess children to determine if they are or are not safe to swallow.”

“Children who also have food aversion or really fussy eating, where they are limited in what they will eat, might also need alternative feeding, such as through a feeding tube,” said Brie.

The requirement for a feeding tube is generally initiated by a child’s team in hospital, where parents receive training about how to manage the feeding tube once they go home.

This is where Speech Therapists, like Yooralla’s highly-skilled team, step-in – to provide further training for parents and to support them on their journey with a child who has a feeding tube.

Supporting parents through grief

Another important aspect of the work of speech therapists is supporting parents through grief and the emotional side of their child being prescribed a feeding tube.

“Some parents may experience grief when their child is prescribed a feeding tube,” said Brie.

“So much of what people do socially revolves around food, we meet for coffee, go out for meals…Parents grieve the loss of their child’s ability to participate in mealtimes the way those without a feeding tube do.”

“We try to connect them with other families who are in the same situation, linking them in with support groups, counsellors and any other resources that may be helpful to support them through this grief,” said Brie.

Supporting the inclusion of children who are tube-fed

It's also within the role of Speech Pathologists to support inclusion and ensure children have the same opportunities available to them.

“We have experienced parents who think that their child won’t be able to go to kinder, or school, because they are tube-fed, but this isn’t the case,” said Brie.

“Speech Pathologists will often work with families and kindergarten staff about how to include the child in their kindergarten program,” said Brie.

“We provide them with a mealtime profile, which details exactly how the child needs to be supported when it comes to mealtimes, including how and what they eat,” said Brie.

This type of support is vital in supporting the inclusion of children who are tube-fed in settings such as school and kindergarten, to ensure they are given the same opportunities to develop in all aspects of their life alongside their peers.

Therapy at Yooralla

Supporting children and adults with tube feeding are just one of the many functions of our multidisciplinary therapy team, with our Therapy services supporting adults and children with disability at all ages and life stages.

Our flexible and qualified team of experienced therapists can provide you with support across physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, psychology, positive behaviour support and nursing.

Find out more about our Therapy services.

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