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The Feeding Tube

Sean, a curious home care dietitian, wants to spend a week in his patients’ shoes, to gain an insight into what life is like being fed via a tube.

"This is worth a watch – walking in patients’ shoes – for a week! It’s fabulous and a great teaching aid. It highlights some of those things that we’d never get to see but would be real issues for our patients."

Professor Hilary Chapman CBE, Chief Nurse, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

For 12 years Sean has cared for people with feeding tubes - but what's it like to be the person with the tube, and to use it day in, day out? Sean wanted to find out for himself - for his own professional learning, and to raise money for charity in the process. Armed with a camcorder, plenty of liquid feed and some syringes, Sean embarked on a week of very hands-on learning.

Feeding tubes are a way of getting nutrition and hydration when your ability to eat and drink is reduced or lost. For some people it may only be for a few days or weeks, and a tube from the nose to the stomach is used - a nasogastric feeding tube (as Sean did). For those who require longer term support, a gastrostomy feeding tube may be fitted with a small operation.

Sean wanted to share his experience with dietitians and other clincians through a daily vlog and summary film. We coached him in camera skills and filmmaking principles, and filmed with him on the day of the insertion and removal of his tube. We worked closely with Sean to edit a film that would work equaly well for experienced professionals and those still in training. In depth feedback also came from the Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Group and Sean's colleagues.

With nearly 3,000 views on YouTube, it has been watched and shared widely among professionals in the UK and beyond. It is regularly being shown to students as part of their training, part of the local stroke unit induction, and by PENG on their yearly clincial update summer course.

You can see more of Sean at work and find out more about feeding tubes in our myTube project.

"This week has given me a massive insight into what it's like to be on tube feeding. There were so many things I was suprised about, and it absolutely will affect my professional practice from now on."

Sean White, Home Enteral Feed Dietitian

Project credits

Video diary: Sean White
Additonal camera: Optical Jukebox
Editing: Optical Jukebox with Sean White

Thanks to: Sean's family and colleagues, Dr Mark MacAllindon, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
Funded and supported by: PENG