Tracheostomy Care at Home: A Helpful Guide for Patients and Caregivers

Providing health care at home is important when you consider recovery continues long after you leave the hospital. This applies to tracheostomy care for patients. Here are some helpful points and factors to assist your continued recovery process.

What Is A Tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is a procedure that is used to help with a patient’s breathing. This is done by creating a hole in the throat that allows you to open up the airways or provide an alternative path for oxygen. This is common for people that spend a significant time in the intensive care units of a hospital or require ventilator support. This is needed when there is a blockage or obstruction in the upper airway, due to various reasons such as cancer in the larynx, or lung diseases. Another reason you might need a tracheostomy is if you cannot remove respiratory secretions due to muscular paralysis or failure, where the tracheostomy would allow removal and disposal of such secretions.

Cleaning And Preparation

It is important that you practice careful and mindful care of your tracheostomy tube to ensure that the patient maintains their health and is free from any risk or harm that might come from irresponsible care, especially at home when you are more vulnerable and not in the immediate care of a nurse or doctor. You need to clean the tube site and dress daily. This will prevent infections from occurring. When handling the tube, you must always start by cleaning and washing your hands. Prepare with the essential tools including gloves, saline solution, hand rub or sanitizer, and gauze. You will use the saline on the gauze, dripping the solution in the center. Removing the old dressing from the patient and the tube, you will clean the area with the gauze, being mindful to look out for possible infections or issues on the skin around or in the wounds. You will then dry and apply clean gauze, determining if you need new gauze as a replacement. You will need to do this daily to ensure that no infections can occur.

Securing The Tracheostomy Tube

After you clean the tracheostomy tube, you have to ensure that it is securely in place. It may be easier to clean with the help of an assistant, or in the case that you are caring for a patient at home, have the patient hold the tube itself in place. You may need to change the tape that holds the tubing in place as well, and want to ensure the tube is secure when doing so, and the second pair of hands is best for this. Tubes can come in a variety of sizes, as well as have a multitude of different respiratory attachments exemplified on this website. It is important that you leave space when reattaching with tape to ensure the patient is given the mobility needed while remaining secure enough to avoid the movement of the tube itself that may cause pain. In order to keep a secure hold, an attachment may be present on the tube to further secure its place.

Providing Oxygen To Trach Mask

If a patient needs supplemental oxygen, you may attach an oxygen tube that is connected to a ventilator to help with low SpO2 levels. Additionally, you can also use the speaking valve to supply oxygen as an alternative. A humidifier may also be used to prevent moisture loss when a tracheostomy is done, as the upper airway is no longer used. This may also be used to help comfort the patient by warming cold air, and also preventing secretion from becoming too thick. 

Administering Medication

If you are utilizing a tracheostomy tube for a patient, one use may be to help administer medication in a different form. The medication can help improve breathing and opening the airways, as well as antibiotics, depending on the needs of the patient. You will prepare medication as required by the prescription and injected it into a chamber that is connected to the tube. You want to ensure that the chamber and tubes are upright to prevent spilling, and properly dismantled once the medication has been administered, reconnecting the tubes as required. Make sure to always clean any chambers and other accessories, to ensure you prioritize the health of the patient.

It is important that you understand how to provide tracheostomy care for patients with various needs. They will have to utilize different accessories and have different medications and procedures associated with their specific care. This is a commitment you have to make as a caregiver, as you have a responsibility for their health and well-being.

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