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COVID-19: medicines information for adult social care providers
The guidance on this page applies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
We will regularly update this resource to reflect the rapidly changing situation. Please check back for the latest update.
These are exceptional times. The whole health and social care system is adapting quickly to new situations and challenges day by day.
We must also make sure people are safe - patients, staff and members of the public.
Emergency legislation has been issued in some areas. We want to continue to support providers to remain safe.
To keep up to date with any changes, you might want to sign up to alerts - for example via MHRA Central Alerting System. The Medicine Health and Regulatory Authority has a web-based cascading system for issuing patient safety alerts, important public health messages and other safety critical information and guidance to the NHS and others, including independent providers of health and social care.
- Controlled drugs as stock in care homes
- Handwritten medicine administration records (MARs)
- Inappropriate use of sedative medicines to enforce social distancing guidelines
- Medicine support care plans - making adjustments during the pandemic
- Medicines disposal during the pandemic
- Re-using named patient drugs as medicines supply
Coronavirus poses one of the biggest challenges that community pharmacies have ever faced. Pharmacies are short staffed either through infection, self-isolation, or parental and caring responsibilities. Dispensing and checking MCAs is labour-intensive. Pharmacies may need to withdraw this service during the coronavirus pandemic to protect core services.
Community pharmacies are not required to provide MCAs under the pharmacy contract.
You will need to consider what to do if the supply changes from MCAs to original packs. You must review and update risk assessments, policies and procedures, staff training and competency assessments.
You must not transfer medicines from pharmacy labelled original packaging to MCAs. If you need to do this, it would be considered as secondary dispensing. You must assess the risk and record all decisions about secondary dispensing.
You may already be using original packs for medicines that are not contained in MCAs. Make sure your care workers understand how to administer these medicines safely. They must follow the 6Rs of medicines administration.
GPs and other healthcare professionals must make reasonable adjustments to help people take their medicines. The Equality Act 2010 requires such adjustments and MCAs may form part of these. This means that MCAs should be still available to support people to self-administer.
Healthcare professionals may delegate certain tasks to care workers under certain circumstances.
Your staff will need extra training and competency checks before undertaking these tasks.
You should have enough trained staff to allow for the continuity of care. Examples of these include:
- injections - for example, insulin
- medicines administered via a feeding tube - for example, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy
Healthcare professionals should only delegate these tasks to a care worker when it is in the best interest of the person. They should also consider how consent is obtained.
You must have robust person-centred care plans in place. These plans support care workers to identify when and where to escalate concerns about a person’s care.
Read more about delegating medicines administration.
We are unaware of any changes to legislation in relation to coronavirus. So current regulations apply.
All care homes can:
- obtain general sales list (GSL) and pharmacy (P) medicines on a bulk prescription. You must administer these under instructions from the prescriber. Bulk prescriptions can be written for patients taking regular medicines. They are not for acute requirements. Find out more about implementing bulk prescribing for care home patients
- support people to access over the counter medicines and homely remedies for treating minor ailments
- Last updated:
- 12 May 2020