Early home discharge is an option for you to take your baby home earlier with nursing support at home while you establish breast or bottle feeding. In Danish, this is called ”tidligt hjemmeophold” (THO). Read about the process and the prerequisites here.
Towards the end of your baby’s stay in the hospital, your baby may still be little, but otherwise well. Your baby may not yet be mature enough to take all its milk from the breast or bottle, but has a feeding tube (called a ”sonde” in Danish) allowing the baby to get the milk it requires.
At this point there is an option to either continue your baby’s care at the hospital or to go home with support from our THO nursing team. This enables you to take care of your baby in your own home, and start to establish your own routines.
Your contact nurse and the THO nurse (one of the neonatal unit’s very experienced nurses) will help prepare you for taking care of your baby’s daily needs before you leave the unit. This includes how to give the tube feeds as well as establishing breast or bottle feeding.
When you do go home, you are followed very closely by the THO nurse, and you can always contact the unit with questions.
Read more about the process of an early home discharge further down.
There are some prerequisites a baby and its family must meet before going home:
- The baby is born prematurely or has been an inpatient in the neonatal unit.
- The parent(s) are interested in taking their baby home with THO.
- The baby’s mother understands, speaks and writes English or Danish fluently.
- The family lives within the hospital’s catchment area.
- The baby still requires some tube feeds.
- The parent(s) can safely give tube feeds and eventually place new tubes themselves, if needed.
- The parent(s) can both independently and correctly read their baby’s cues and meet its needs.
- The parent(s) have access to relevant equipment as home (e.g. cot, car seat, expressing machine).
Similar early discharge schemes are in use in neonatal units across Denmark and all, including here, have had great success.
If you are interested in applying for early home discharge (THO) or would like more information about it, you are welcome to contact the THO nursing team or lead nurse who will arrange for you to start the process.
The THO process
During your stay in the Neonatal Unit, your baby’s doctor and contact nurse will regularly assess if your baby is a candidate for THO. If it is an option, they will discuss it with you. If you are interested in this option, the preparations for going home will begin.
Your baby will only be allowed home once the medical treatment is completed. Monitoring must be discontinued and your baby must be stable. Your baby must be able to maintain its own temperature when dressed and lying in a cot, and most importantly, you must feel ready to take your baby home.
To come home with THO, the parents must partake in the following steps:
A meeting with a member of the THO team, where you can discuss in depth the THO process
Teaching on disease prevention, signs and symptoms of illness and basic first aid for newborns
Complete the E-learning program on tube feeding and insertion (only available in Danish) We also recommend that you attend the parent support groups (called ”Emnegruppe” in Danish) as part of your preparation for THO. These are held every Monday and Wednesday from 13:30-14:30.
There is an additional group held the first Monday of every month (from 16:00 – 17:30) for grandparents or other supporting friends or family. Here they can get more information, have questions answered and learn how to better support you once you are home.
Before you go home you will receive training and guidance on how to care for your baby at home and things you should observe and look out for. We will also talk you through everything we do on the Neonatal Unit that you will need to continue at home: from changing nappies to giving any medication still required.
You will learn how to give tube feeds safely. You can learn how to replace the feeding tube as well, but this is not a requirement.
Visits from the nurse
Once you go home, one of the THO nurses will visit you twice a week. The purpose of these visits is to help, guide, and support you, and to check that your baby is healthy and thriving. The nurse will bring scales with her, so she can check that your baby is feeding well and gaining weight.
Contact the Neonatal Unit
There are 3 named THO nurses, at least one of whom will usually be working in the unit. If you have a question that cannot wait until the next planned visit, you can always ring them directly on 3862 3310, day or night.
If at any point you become unsure if your baby should be at home or needs to return to hospital for any reason, your baby can be readmitted onto the Neonatal Unit.
Your baby will be discharged from THO when it is fully breast/bottle fed and no longer needs the feeding tube. Your baby should be gaining weight well, and you should feel comfortable caring for your baby with support from your health visitor. This occurs by holding a discharge meeting in your home with the THO nurse and the health visitor.
Around 6 weeks after discharge you will receive a follow up appointment from one of our THO nurses at the Neonatal Unit.