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Some of the people you support may use medication and require support to store and take it correctly. Others may be able to manage their own medication safely. Individuals who can manage their own medication safely should be encouraged to do so as this promotes their independence and makes mistakes less likely to happen. Information about the support each person requires will be included in their care plan.

Whenever you are dealing with medication you need to be aware of the main points of agreed procedures about handling medication:

• Ordering: the process should be quick and efficient;
• Receiving: a list of medication ordered should be checked against that received;
• Storing: controlled drugs (CDs) must be stored in a locked cupboard or might be kept by the individual if self-administering;
• Administering: ensure the right person receives the right dose of the right medication at the right time;
• Recording: use the medicine administration record (MAR) which charts the administration of drugs. Make sure the records are clear;
• Transfer: medication has to stay with the individual as it is their property, so if they are transferred the medication goes with them;
• And finally, disposal: return unwanted medication to a pharmacy. Care homes must use a licensed waste management company.

Your organisation will have its own agreed ways of working in relation to medication and you must make sure that you familiarise yourself with these.

Tasks like filing fingernails or toe nails, continence maintenance and assisting with medication, can only be carried out if they have been written in the individual’s care or support plan. That’s why it is vital that the individual’s needs and requirements are agreed and clearly written down so all workers know when to provide support as well as whether the person has the mental capacity or mobility they need to manage themselves.

You always have to obtain the individual’s consent before carrying out healthcare tasks or assisting with medication. Detailed policies and procedures about handling medication. Appropriate training must be provided for health and social care workers who are required to provide medication.

You are not allowed to remind, assist or give individuals their medication or carry out related healthcare tasks unless it is part of your role and until you have completed and satisfactorily passed the appropriate training. This includes inhaled medication, any medication that needs to be swallowed, medical creams or ointments, drops, filing nails or prompting or helping with injections, for example auto-injectors for Anaphylaxis.

As a rule you should not carry out any actions that are not covered by the individual’s care plan. As legislation on medication and related tasks is forever changing, you need to keep yourself up to date with current laws and guidance from your employer.