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Storing medicines in residential services

  • Organisations we regulate

Medicines should be stored in a way that means they are safe and will be effective when administered.

All medicines have storage requirements that are specified by the manufacturer.

In residential care, medicines can be stored for individuals in their own rooms or centrally.

Points to consider in residential care

As a care home provider, you should assess each person's needs for storing their medicines. You should provide storage that meets the person's needs, choices and risk assessment. This should take account of the type of medicines system the person wants to use.

You should include the following information in your policies and processes. This will help make sure that medicines are stored safely and securely.

How and where

Policies and processes should include how and where medicines are stored, including:

  • medicines supplied in monitored dosage systems and original packs
  • controlled drugs - when storing controlled drugs, you must follow the Misuse of Drugs Act (Safe Custody) Regulations. These regulations apply to all providers of adult care homes
  • other medicines with the potential for abuse or misuse
  • medicines which need to be stored in a refrigerator
  • skin creams and other topical preparations
  • oral nutritional supplements and thickeners
  • appliances and devices, including sharps

Self-administered medicines

Some people will be administering medicines themselves. You should store these medicines as identified in the person’s risk assessment. For example, this could be in a lockable cupboard or drawer in their room.

People should be able to access any medicines that they need, when they need to take or use them. You must make sure that other people do not have access to these medicines.

Secure storage

You must store medicines securely. Only authorised care home staff should have access. Your processes and policies must also include how you make sure the keys are securely stored.

Temperatures and storage conditions

Your policies and processes must address the temperatures for storing medicines. They should include how staff will monitor the storage conditions. This will help to make sure that you store medicines according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Emergency medicines

Store emergency medicines safely. Make sure that you can access them quickly when needed.

Disposing of medicines

Read about storage of medicines waiting for disposal or destruction

Last updated:
03 February 2020