Date Revised:

Find out more about how and when to give medicines safely.

Carers Trust have a booklet called A Carers Guide to Managing Medicines. If you are regularly handle and give medication and feel unsure about doing this then this booklet is for you. It has been designed to give more guidance about how and when to give medicines safely.

The booklet includes a Consent form to make it easier for you to talk to the pharmacist about the medicines the person you care for is taking.

When to give medicines

This will depend on the medicine but try and keep to the same time of day. It may help to put a reminder on your calendar or phone.

If the person you care for has forgotten to take their medicine and you’re unsure when they need to take the next dose, ask your pharmacist or GP. You can always give them a ring if it’s difficult to visit.

Blister packs are designed to help people remember to take their own medicines. However, not all medicines can be put into a blister pack and blister packs are not suitable for everyone. Your pharmacist will be able to advise if a blister pack would be suitable for the person you care for. If you use a blister pack it’s important you keep the pharmacy advised of any changes to the medication. It’s also really important to tell your pharmacy if the person you care for goes into hospital so they can stop any medication. Let them know when the person you care for is back home so they can check the medication is still right and get it ready for you.

How to give medicines

Most oral medicine should be swallowed with water. Read the label every time before you give or prompt for a medicine to be taken to check that you have the right one and that you are following the instructions. Some medicine must be taken at set times or before or after meals so that they work best. Your pharmacist can help you with this.

Make sure you always wash your hands before and after giving medication.

If the person you care for refuses to take their medicine try and get them to speak to their GP or pharmacist and explain why they don’t want to take it, for example it may give them unwanted side effects, it might be difficult to swallow or have an unpleasant taste. Medicines can sometimes be given in a different form which might make all the difference.

If the person you care for struggles to swallow the medication, it is possible it may be crushed and/or mixed with other things. Your pharmacist can advise you when you can do this and when it is important not to.

Storing medicines

All medicines need to be kept in the container they are supplied in and stored in a cool, dry place. Check the label to see if there are special arrangements for storage, for example, in a fridge.

Take any medicines that the person you care for no longer needs, or is out of date, back to your local pharmacy. Don’t keep them “just in case”. Don’t throw them out with your normal rubbish or wash them down the sink or toilet. Always check expiry dates on medicine you don’t use frequently and some liquids and creams have a different date once they are opened.

Thanks to Well for helping us write this page.

Next review due: June 2017​