A tracheostomy is an artificial opening in the front of the neck into the trachea which a person can breathe through. There are a number of reasons why someone might have a tracheostomy, with the most common reason being to ‘secure’ a safe airway as a result of a blockage of the normal air passages (nose and mouth or at the back of the throat). Alternatively, a person may require ongoing assistance from a ventilator or not be able to safely manage food, liquid or even oral secretions (i.e., they are unable to ‘protect’ their airway) and/or have a reduced conscious level.

People with tracheostomies are now often discharged from hospital into the community and will likely require ongoing assistance from friends, family or professional carers to live with it. As a result, there is an expectation of increased knowledge and more advanced nursing and healthcare skills for staff caring for such individuals.