Many carers may be involved in helping people to take their medicines. This involvement could be reminding the person to take their medicines (or checking they have done so), or it could be ordering and/or collecting prescriptions, or filling compliance aids. It could even be deciding what medicines they should take, how much and at what time. This is called administration of medicines.
There are implications for the safe handling of medication at each of these different levels of support. Here are some tips for carers involved in medication support.
Use compliance aids
People on complex medication regimens, with different medicines taken at different times of day, may be provided with compliance aids designed to help with this complexity.
The simplest of these is the Dosette box, with compartments for days of the week and times of the day. If you think this could help it’s worth speaking to a pharmacist. There are more sophisticated compliance aids, or consider some of the suggestions provided by the Care Quality Commission.
Understand the medicines
It is important that medicines are taken correctly so they have the best chance of working properly, with minimum side effects. Make sure you know whether the drugs should be taken with or without food, at what time of day and any specific instructions, like needing to be taken on an empty stomach, or while standing up.
Understand missed doses and overdoses
People often forget to take their pills and may want to take one as soon as they remember after the missed dose. They may even want to “double up” at the next dose, which can be dangerous. It’s worth knowing what to do if doses are missed, or in the event of an accidental overdose.
Anyone involved in medicines can benefit from attending a course on the safe handling of medication, like those given by a provider such as Tidal Training.
Consider a structured medication review
People who are on a number of different medicines may benefit from a structured medication review, to make sure that all the medicines are necessary and useful.