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Who can administer medication in a care home?

Distributing medication in a residential care home setting is a large responsibility for care home staff. Care home residents are often elderly and have certain health conditions which require the careful administration of medication to meet their specific needs. Each resident requires different prescribed medication resulting in a range of different medications to treat a number of different health conditions. Therefore, it is vital that the care home staff are trained and follow the medical guidelines to ensure the careful delivery of medication to the residents. In this guide, we discuss who can issue medication and the policy to be followed.

Can health care assistants administer medication?

Health care assistants working in a nursing home are able to administer medication to care home residents provided they have completed the required training. According to The Department of Health’s Administration of Medicines in Care Homes (with Nursing) for Older People by Care Assistants, care assistants can legally deliver medication to care home residents provided they have completed the relevant training and their practices are regularly reviewed by the care home manager. The training commonly includes learning how to assist residents with tracking tablets, capsules, oral mixtures, applying a cream/ointment, inserting drops to ears, nose or eyes, and inhaled medicines. Guidance from the Department of Health states that care assistants must take full responsibility and follow the guidelines in place to ensure medication is given to residents carefully, safely and correctly. It is also paramount that care assistants are trained on the correct protocol in the event that the resident refuses to take their vital medication.

Are registered nurses allowed to administer medication?

In a care home, medicines and controlled drugs are commonly given by a registered nurse. Registered nurses are also qualified to handle more invasive or specialist medical procedures that require more advanced training such as injectable drugs (e.g. insulin), gastronomy procedures, oxygen and suppositories. Registered nurses can delegate medicine administration tasks to care home assistants, however, it is the responsibility of the registered nurse to ensure the care assistant is competent to take on the task and carry it out correctly.

Can residents administer their own medication?

Care home staff should assume a resident can self-administer their own medication, unless a risk assessment indicates otherwise. It is important for residents within the supported living environment to retain their independence by being responsible for their own medication. Some residents may only be receiving short-term respit care, so it is important that they keep up their own routine prior to returning to independent living. 

It is vital that care home staff carry out individual risk assessments to determine how much support a resident needs to take and be responsible for their own individual medicines. Risk assessments consider the individual’s choice, whether self-administration is a risk to themselves, how the medicine will be stored and whether they are capable of taking the correct dose at the right time. Care homes provide support to encourage residents to take medication independently by providing alarms, reminder charts, and multi-compartment, easy to open containers.

Do care homes have medication policies to follow?

All care homes have a written medication administration policy, which outlines information about how care home staff should share information about medicines and keep records about medication. It also includes the procedure to take in the instance a mistake occurs when giving medication to a resident. A medication policy will also outline how to order, store and dispose of medication and how to give medication to people in their care. The medication policy will also contain an important section which reviews and accurately lists the medication each resident is taking. The policy is commonly checked and updated regularly to ensure it has the most up-to-date information.

Do care home staff receive medication training?

Care home staff must receive appropriate training to be qualified to give medicine in a care home. The end goal of medication administration training is to teach care home assistants how to properly manage and deliver medicine and how to eliminate medication administration errors. The training focuses on components including: 

  • How to store medication safely
  • How to administer medication safely
  • How to keep a record of medication administered
  • The confidentiality of residents care
  • How to report errors and how to select the correct dosage of medication. 

The medication training is conducted by an accredited learning provider to ensure that the correct information is communicated to the care home staff.

The correct and accurate delivery of medication in a care home is vital to ensure the best possible care is delivered to the resident. The care and level of independence given to a resident is tailored based on their capabilities. Some residents may find it difficult or confusing to keep track of their medication while others are capable of independently managing their medication. This is why the medication policy is a vital document in the care home as it outlines the important guidelines to ensure the correct delivery of medication to the residents.