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Training and competency for medicines optimisation in adult social care

  • Organisations we regulate

Appropriate training, support and competency makes care safe, high quality and consistent.

On induction

Provide induction training to all staff at the start of their employment. Make it relevant to the type of care setting they are working in and the tasks undertaken.

Identify the training, learning and development needs of each new member of staff. Review these at appropriate intervals during their employment.

Supervise new staff as appropriate. Assess whether they have the required or acceptable levels of competence. When they show they are competent, allow them to carry out their role unsupervised.


Make sure your staff receive appropriate ongoing or periodic supervision in their role. This will help to maintain their levels of competence.

Support staff to take part in training. Make sure the training is flexible and accessible enough for the workforce.

Make sure staff can access extra training as required to maintain their competence.

Train your care staff to administer medicines using specialist techniques, some of which will be delegated tasks. Examples include:

  • subcutaneous injection
  • rectal or vaginal preparations
  • inhalers
  • oral syringes
  • other medical devices

Train staff to use medicines management systems that the pharmacy might provide. Examples include monitored dosage systems or electronic medicines administration systems.


NICE recommends an annual review of staff knowledge, skills and competency. Use this review to determine future training requirements. Identify support, learning and development needs from any medicines related safety incident.

You should have a formal process to assess staff competence. You must not allow staff to manage or administer medicines before that assessment. A competent assessor needs to assess your staff. They will assess the knowledge, understanding and competency of the staff. You must keep records of staff competency assessments.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) sets standards for administering medicines. To stay on the NMC register, nurses must keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date. They must make sure their practice satisfies the NMC's standards.

A Registered Nurse might delegate the administration of medicines to a care assistant. The Registered Nurse must be confident that the care assistant is competent to take on this task.

Learning Providers

You could use an accredited learning provider. They will provide a competent assessor. They will assess competency and level of understanding of the training they give.

Non-accredited learning providers do not need to provide assessors. You'll need to make alternative arrangements to assess knowledge, understanding and competency.

The Skills for Care endorsement framework is a mark of quality. It is given to learning and development providers in the adult social care sector.

Find a Skills for Care learning provider

Mapping to the key lines of enquiry (KLOEs)

  • E2 How does the service make sure that staff have the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver effective care and support?
  • E2.1 Do people have their assessed needs, preferences and choices met by staff with the right qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience?
  • E2.2 Are staff supported to keep their professional practice and knowledge updated in line with best practice?
  • E2.3 Do staff and any volunteers have effective and regular mentorship, support, induction, supervision, appraisal and training?
Last updated:
27 January 2020