Editorial

Children can thrive on a blended diet

RCN Wales 2016 Nurse of the Year has developed a best-practice protocol for administering a blended diet for children with complex needs.

RCN Wales 2016 Nurse of the Year has developed a best-practice protocol for administering a blended diet for children with complex needs.

Rahmani & Thomas
Nurse consultant Sian Thomas administers a blended diet. Picture: Stephen Shepherd

Using a blended diet to feed a child through gastrostomy is still a controversial practice, but the pioneering leadership of nurse consultant Sian Thomas could change this.

After being approached by the parent of a child with complex needs, Ms Thomas developed a multiagency protocol to help her attend a mainstream school.

Writing for Nursing Children and Young People, Ms Thomas explains that staff at the school blend the child’s food, and an enteral feeding tube is used to deliver the nutrients the little girl needs to thrive. She can now walk, is growing, and has exhibited significant cognitive and social development.

The child’s school and her teacher are supportive, and she has her food alongside her classmates, who accept it as part of the normal school routine.

Evidence

What is needed for the practice to be adopted more widely is a robust evidence base.

Following this case and other anecdotal reports, there is some evidence for the benefits of administering a blended diet via gastrostomy, and a multicentre study is to be undertaken in South Wales to assess the risks involved. The results are awaited eagerly.

Ms Thomas won last year’s RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year for her work developing a multiagency, best-practice protocol for administering a blended diet for their children instead of prescribed commercial enteral feed.

The protocol provides staff with some assurance about risk, training and delegating the procedure to non-healthcare professionals.

But above all, the method has provided a little girl and her parents with some normality, and with some significant improvements in health.

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