Jenni Calcraft and Mim Oldershaw are the brains behind a new innovative feeding solution for children and adults who are tube fed.
Jenni’s son was born with additional health needs and it became apparent when he was two that he had an uncoordinated swallow. He was admitted to hospital and became tube fed. When his pump bag arrived it was so bulky that he fell over backwards as soon as he put it on. Jenni quickly realised that he was more disabled by the bag itself than by the tube feeding. She adapted a bag for him which was much more compact and toddler friendly, and TubieeGo was born.
Jenni realised that the TubieeGo was a great solution for tube feeding and knew that many people would benefit from it, but she didn’t have the capacity to build a business on her own. Enter Mim. Mim was one of Jenni’s friends and was a nurse with professional experience of tube feeding, and she also had a passion for textiles. A perfect business partner. Mim was equally excited about the venture and the TubieeGo team now has a unique mix of both professional and personal tube feeding experience, which both Jenni and Mim recognise has been invaluable as the products and business have developed.
Nutrition companies provide bags to carry the pump and feed, and while these bags are functional, they do look like medical kit bags and can be rather bulky. The TubieeGo gives the user a choice to match their individual style and combines it with functionality. Each toddler, teenager and adult will require very different bags for their tube feeding needs, that individuality and choice is now available to people through TubieeGo.
Jenni admits the process of creating the TubieeGo insert and bag was a learning curve and took a lot of trial and error: “We tried many different methods of holding the feed containers in the bags but realising that we could elasticate the feed onto a removable perspex insert was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment! Our TubieeGo insert is now extremely versatile as it can hold any feed container used by the three nutrition companies in the UK, plus it is easy to use and is simply poppered into a bag with a few simple adaptations to the bag itself.”
They have produced a versatile range for all ages and to complement individual styles: “We have chosen to use high quality branded bags for our Readymade Range as we feel that inclusive fashion is really important. If you need to wear a rucksack all day, everyday you want to have some choice over what it looks like. The chances are that you’ll want a highstreet option rather than a medical bag. We adapt the bags to hold our TubieeGo insert and then sell them for our customers to enjoy.”
Although it has been a difficult process the duo have put in hard work and passion and the journey has been worth it as they can now see their product transforming people’s lives: “It has been overwhelming at times and there have been many challenges along the way but we have thoroughly enjoyed it! As a nurse and a physiotherapist our backgrounds are in clinical practice and yet we have independently created, developed, tested, manufactured, marketed and now started selling a product. It has been a fascinating and exciting learning experience for us both.
“Thankfully, we have met a lot of people along the way who have given us their time and expertise to guide us in the right direction. Our perseverance has paid off as we are now seeing our TubieeGo bags literally change the lives of children and adults who are tube-fed, and that is great motivation to get us through any future challenges.”
The TubieeGo seems to be filling a gap in the market and Jenni and Mim can already see the positive reception the product is getting from users: “The reactions have been amazingly positive because our bags are not only attractive, they are also vastly changing the quality of life for individuals and families. We’ve had numerous reports of toddlers who were previously unable to move around during feeds now having the freedom to play and get on with being a toddler which is so essential to their development and also family life. And one young adult on continuous feeds recently sent us a photo of herself looking great at a music gig wearing her bespoke bag. It’s been wonderful to see the positive impact our products are having.”
Jenni and Mim hope that their bags will ease some of the burden of being tube fed through better functionality than the standard issue bags. They recognise how important the appearance and stylistic choice are to an individual’s sense of wellbeing and hope that TubieeGo will bring individuality to people who are tube fed, plus a little bit of fun along the way.
For more information visit tubieego.com