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Home for our patients earlier – HOPE program for NCCU babies

Home for our patients earlier – HOPE program for NCCU babies

What is the HOPE program

The HOPE program was designed to help your baby go home earlier while they are still establishing suck feeds. This enables you to be closer to your baby and integrate them into family life while safely shortening their hospital stay.

You will be taught how to manage and feed your baby via their gastric tube while they are working towards taking all of their feeds from the breast or bottle. Your baby will be assessed by a lactation consultant and/or speech therapist before being considered eligible for this program.

Additionally, there are criteria that will need to be met that include the following:

  • Breathing without assistance. If your baby requires intranasal oxygen they may qualify if they have had a respiratory review with a confirmed prescription for oxygen at home.
  • No pauses in breathing (apnoeas) or decreases in heart rate (bradycardias) in the past 3 days.
  • Caffeine has been stopped for at least 3 days before discharge home.
  • Successfully sucking at least 2 feeds without gastric tube top ups.
  • Maintaining their temperature while dressed and nursed in a cot with no extra external heating.
  • Consistently gaining an appropriate amount of weight. The dietitian can help with a guide to the ideal amount of weight gain for your baby.
  • You and your family must have a working mobile phone to allow telehealth appointments and daily contact from our HOPE team.
  • You and your family must reside within Mater’s catchment area and have ability to transport baby back to hospital when required.

If you agree to participate in this program you will be asked to sign a consent form. Please ask any questions at this time as education will commence shortly after you provide consent to ensure you are well prepared for home.

What support is offered if my baby is discharged under the HOPE program?

You will have access to a nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days per week via telephone, and our team will make regular contact with you to ensure feeding is progressing well.

Our team will contact you via telehealth the day after discharge. The following day (2 days post-discharge), a nurse will visit your home for a check-up and to weigh your baby. At this stage you will be allocated a set of scales so that you will be able to weigh your baby until discharged from the program.

It is recommended that you write down your babies’ feeds (whether breast/bottle/NG tube) and wet and dirty nappies on the home feeding chart as this is important information to have when you are contacted by nursing staff.

What if the nasogastric tube is accidently removed/ falls out?

If the gastric tube falls out and you have been taught how to replace the tube, you are able to do so. However, if you are unable to replace the gastric tube, please contact the special care nursing team (0435 685 280) to arrange a replacement tube to be inserted. This is done at the Mater Mothers’ Hospital by our trained special care nurses or may be done at the home visit if timing aligns.

Are there any potential complications to being discharged on the HOPE program?

If your baby still requires gastric feeds after a period of about three weeks on the HOPE program, an appointment at the Mater’s Babies clinic will be arranged to discuss the best plan for your baby’s care moving forward.

Additionally, if your baby is consistently losing weight despite gastric tube feeding at home, you and your baby will be readmitted as a patient to the postnatal unit of Mater Mothers’ Hospital for assessment and support.

In the case of an emergency, always call 000 or present to Queensland Children’s Hospital’s emergency department.

When is my baby discharged from the HOPE program?

When your baby does not require any milk to be given through the gastric tube, you are able to remove the gastric tube at home.

It is important to closely monitor your baby’s weight and feeding and weigh your baby approximately 2 days after removing the tube to ensure they have still gained an appropriate amount of weight.

 If this is successful, your baby will be able to be discharged from the HOPE program and can be followed up with community child health nurses. 

We recommend you make an appointment with your GP within 1-2 weeks of discharge from HOPE.

Important contacts:

Emergency Care: 000

Special care nursing team:  0435 658 280

SCN Discharge coordinator: 0435 685 282 (Monday-Friday, 7 am to 3.30 pm)

Parent Support Centre: 07 3163 2229 (Monday-Friday 8 am to 4 pm)

13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) 24 hours – For breastfeeding and child health please ask for the child health nurse.



Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-
Last modified 16/9/2021.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 31/8/2021
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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