A tracheostomy is often performed when a patient suffers an airway obstruction or loses the ability to breathe without the aid of a ventilator. In order to maximize patient comfort and prevent infection, the tracheostomy site and apparatus must be carefully cleaned and monitored. Here are some important aspects of at-home care for a loved one with a tracheostomy:
Work with a Licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner
While your loved one is still in the hospital, a licensed respiratory care practitioner (RCP) will help you craft a home care plan that includes training on tracheostomy care, the setup of home medical equipment, and lessons on how to operate the ventilator based on the need of the patient. Once the patient returns home, the RCP will provide on-call support available 24/7 and will visit each month to restock your medical supplies and provide follow-up training.
Suction Every Few Hours
As a natural defense, the body responds to the foreign trach tube by producing thicker secretions of mucus. The tracheostomy must therefore be suctioned out regularly in order to keep fluids from clogging the airway. Before suctioning, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and put on gloves. Avoid inserting the catheter too deeply, and do not cover the control valve until it is in place. Suction for less than ten seconds at a time, to prevent interference with the patient’s breathing.
Replace the Inner Cannula Twice Each Day
Even with good suctioning habits, mucus can still build up on the cannula, which is why it is vital to clean or replace it regularly. Soak the dirty inner cannula in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and boiled water, scrubbing the inside with a pipe cleaner. Avoid leaving the inner cannula out more than a few minutes at a time. If the patient has a reusable inner cannula, it may be helpful to have a second one that can be placed while the other is being cleaned.
If you would like to speak with a respiratory therapist regarding home medical equipment, call Independence Plus at (708) 366-4500. We are dedicated to providing skilled home care services for the safety and comfort of your loved one.