In 2016, the NHS reported that 1.1 billion prescribed drugs were issued by hospitals and UK doctors. A high percentage of these were to patients in care homes. A busy care home may have dozens of residential patients that have diverse and unique needs. These patients may require multiple types of medication to treat anything from infections to serious illnesses. Storing medication and the allocation of prescribed drugs to patients for numerous patients can be a challenging task.
When providing care, it is your responsibility to ensure medication is stored safely. Here we offer some tips on how to do it.
How should you store medication safely?
It is important to store medicines in a care home properly and arrange for their dispensation at the right times to ensure they work as effectively as possible.
Storing medication in a care home comes under the category of Control and Administration of Medicine, which covers aspects such as safe medicine handling procedures and the safe disposal of medicines after use.
The following is a shortlist of practical advice on how to store common types of medicine:
- Store painkillers safely – keep them in their labelled bottle or packet, in a cool, dry place, and out of children’s reach.
- Check dates – check the label to make sure your drugs are not out of date.
- Remember when your patients need to take their medicine – write a note, set an alarm or get someone to remind you. A schedule where you can mark off each dose may help.
- Use a pill organiser – these can help you keep track of medicines. You can label the box with the times you need to take them.
When travelling, remember to take your medicines with you and make sure you have enough to cover the whole time away. Take a list of your patient's medication, copies of prescriptions and their doctor’s telephone number in case these are needed.
The majority of medication may be stored at room temperature, in a cool dry place. It is best to avoid storing in a bathroom medicine cabinet because heat and moisture from the bath or shower may damage certain medicines.
If medication is to be protected from light, store it in a container that keeps out light. Warnings on the medicine packaging are there for a reason.
Secure prescriptions with a lock where possible. 60% of teens who misuse prescription drugs state that pills are easy to get at home. They also assume that these are safer than drugs sold on the street because they were originally prescribed by a doctor.
Training to provide safer medication storage
At Flexebee, we understand the problems care home providers have regarding the administration of medication for their patients. Regardless of the age of the patients, it is important to always ensure medication is handled appropriately to reduce risk in a care home environment. For further training, try our Medication Awareness and Medication Advanced e-learning courses.