What is known and objectives: The use of enteral tube feeding at home is becoming more widespread, with patients ranging in age and diseases. Dysphagia and swallowing difficulties can compromise nutritional intake and the administration of oral medications, affecting therapeutic outcomes negatively. Carers’ experiences of medicines administration and medicines optimization have not been explored fully. The objectives of this study were to identify issues carers experience in medicines administration; the strategies they have developed to cope; and suggestions to improve the medicines administration process. Methods: An online survey was promoted nationally; 42 carers completed it. Descriptive statistical analysis was applied, as well as thematic analysis of open-ended responses. Results were compared against the 4 principles of medicines optimization. Results and discussion: 93% of respondents administered medications with enteral feeding tubes, but only 62% had received advice from healthcare professionals and only 8% had received written information on how to do so. Responses identified 5 medicines administration issues experienced by carers; 4 strategies they developed to cope; and 3 main areas of suggestions to improve medicines administration via enteral feeding at home. What is new and conclusion: The 4 principles of medicines optimization have not previously been applied to enteral feeding. We present a novel account of carers’ experiences, for example coping with ill-suited formulations and a lack of training and support, which should inform better practice (Principle 1). Carers sometimes experience suboptimal choice of medicines (Principle 2). Carers’ practices are not always well-informed and may affect therapeutic outcomes and safety (Principle 3). There is scope for improvement in carer training, education and support to better support medicines optimization (Principle 4).
- feeding tubes
- medicine administration