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When we talk about medications, we often refer to them as drugs, especially within the care setting. A medicine is a substance used to treat or prevent illnesses and it can in some cases be used instead of surgery.

So what is a drug? A drug is, in effect, the same as a medication - something used to treat or prevent illness. It can also be an illicit substance that affects the mind. There are over 5,000 substances that are classed as medications. This includes:

  • Herbal medication
  • Vitamins
  • Controlled Drugs
  • Prescription medication
  • Over the counter medication

The aims of medication are to improve quality of life, to alleviate symptoms, or to prevent symptoms altogether. Medications are vitally important to the people that we care for, so it is vital that all staff receive medication awareness training.

Everything to do with the use of medications must be recorded, from the point it is received, right through to its disposal.
When we look at medications as a whole, we have to ensure that the RIGHT PERSON receives the RIGHT MEDICATION at the RIGHT TIME, in the RIGHT DOSE by the RIGHT ROUTE and that the person has the RIGHT TO REFUSE.

The delivery of medication should be around what is convenient for the service user or client group rather than for the organisation. That means times that suit your client group rather than those that suit your staff.

Confidentiality must also be observed. We need to always be aware of your client group's privacy and dignity. This means supporting the individual when they take their medication, for example not giving an insulin injection in the middle of a dining room, but making sure that it is in someone’s bedroom or in a private area.