Gastrostomy tube (GT) feeding is a well recognised solution for preventing growth failure and enhancing quality of life for the children with neurologic impairment and their caregivers.
Aims To assess the level of parents/carers satisfaction and experience after gastrostomy tube insertion among children with moderate to severe learning and physical disabilities.
Method 50 parents/carers of children attending special education schools for moderate to severe learning and physical disabilities in a local district were requested to participate in a survey by completing a 23-item questionnaire. A total of 15 respondents (so far) were analysed.
Results The age of the children ranged from 3 to 18 years (Median 10.8 years) with a M:F sex ration of 1:2. Gastrostomy was performed between 5 and 204 months of age (Median of 4.6 years). 40% of the carers wished they had the GT inserted earlier. The commonest problems ever associated with feeding were vomiting/regurgitation (80%), poor growth/weight gain (73%), coughing/choking and recurrent chest infections (66% each). The main problem for each child was reported to be improved in 80% and remained unchanged in 13%. The frequency of feeding either remained the same or increased (36% each) in most children while the duration of each feed either reduced (70%) or remained the same.
More than 50% of the carers reported positive effect of GT feeding in relation to ease of medication administration, the Child’s Quality of life, happiness and ease of handling, improved growth/weight gain, reduced vomiting, increased time available for minding other children, better control of pain, epilepsy and chest infections (Table 1).
Conclusion Over two thirds of the carers expressed overall improvement of their children’s feeding problems with the gastrostomy feeding, helping to resolve common problems such as vomiting/regurgitation, poor growth/weight gain, coughing/choking and recurrent chest infections. The healthcare professionals need to provide advice and necessary information to help the carers make the decision at an early stage.