Information for the public
Avoiding infections such as gastroenteritis is very important for people who have enteral feeding.
Before you leave hospital, you and your carer(s) should have thorough training until you feel confident about managing enteral feeding at home. You will get support and help from healthcare workers once you get home and for as long as you need it.
Whenever possible, you should be provided with cartons containing feeds that are ready to use and do not need mixing or diluting. These feeds may be given in a feeding session of up to 24 hours.
If ready-to-use feeds are not available, the person preparing a feed should clean their hands thoroughly (see 'Keeping hands clean') and use a clean working area and equipment that is for enteral feeding only. Cooled boiled water or fresh sterile water should be used to mix the feed, which can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and kept in the fridge. Home-prepared feeds should be given in a session of no more than 4 hours.
All feeds should be stored according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The equipment used for giving feeds should be handled as little as possible, and an aseptic technique should be used. The feed-giving set (that is, the equipment used to administer feeds) and feed containers must be discarded after each feeding session.
The place where the feeding tube enters your body (sometimes known as the 'PEG') should be washed daily with water and dried thoroughly.
To prevent blockages, the feeding tube should be flushed with freshly drawn tap water before and after feeding or giving medications, using syringes provided by your healthcare worker. For patients whose immune systems aren't working properly (who are 'immunosuppressed'), either cooled freshly boiled water or sterile water from a freshly opened container should be used to flush the tube.