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Medicines: information for all adult social care services

  • Organisations we regulate

These pages have replaced the adult social care medicines FAQs.

There will be times when people spend time away from their residential care setting. When this happens, it is vital to consider the safe continuity of medicines supply.
You must have a policy or standard operating procedure which details how you manage controlled drugs within your service. This should cover the ordering, storing, administering, recording and disposal of controlled drugs.
Your policy or standard operating procedure on managing medicines must include controlled drugs. When you assess what medicines support a person needs, you must include support with controlled drugs.
Gabapentin and pregabalin are now Schedule 3 controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, and Class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Covert administration is when medicines are administered in a disguised format.
A care worker supporting people with their medicines must be appropriately trained and competent to carry out this task.
Insulin is a hormone which helps to regulate metabolism and lowers blood glucose levels.
All care settings should have a written policy for the safe disposal of surplus, unwanted or expired medicines.
This information reflects new International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative guidelines adopted from 1 April 2018.
During end of life care, one clinician should be responsible for a person’s medicines. This will depend on where the person lives but would usually be their GP. In some cases, hospice teams may give support.
Enteral feeding tubes provide access to the stomach or jejunum (small intestine). They are used in cases where there is an obstruction or difficulty in swallowing.
External medicines can include creams, ointments, lotions and patches.
Sharps injuries are a well-known risk in the health and social care sector. Sharps contaminated with an infected patient's blood can transmit more than 20 diseases, including hepatitis B, C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Anticoagulants are used to prevent the blood from clotting as normal and are therefore used to treat and prevent blood clots.
Clozapine is an antipsychotic medicine used to treat schizophrenia. But it can cause serious side effects.
Lithium is used as a mood stabiliser. Lithium is sometimes prescribed in the management and treatment of mania, hypomania, recurrent depression, and bipolar disorder.
Sodium valproate and valproic acid are known collectively as valproate. Brands include Epilim, Depakote, Convulex, Episenta, Epival, Kentlim, Orlept, Syonell and Valpaland. There are other generic brands.
The guidance on this page applies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. When protecting vulnerable people who may not understand social distancing guidelines, you must act in a way that is proportionate, pragmatic, safe, and focused on the best interests of individuals and the wider system.
These are some of the key points from the NICE guidance about administration of medicines for adults in community settings.
Oxygen has been widely used medically for many years. It is a gas and you should treat it as a medicine.


Last updated:
24 February 2020