MH36 Support individuals to administer their own medication


This standard covers encouraging and supporting individuals in administering their own medication in accordance with the individual’s care programme.

This standard applies to those who prepare and support individuals to administer their own medication.  This standard is likely to be most applicable to rehabilitation and community settings. 

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. the limits of the role and action which you are able to take in relation to supporting people to administer their own medication
  2. legislation and organisational requirements relating to medications (including statutory, such as Medicines Act, and organisational related to the giving of medicines)
  3. why individuals should be encouraged to be as self-managing as possible in administering their own medication and the ways in which this can be facilitated
  4. the effects and dynamics of dependence/independence on the individual and any carers and the provision of the service
  5. why questions beyond the worker’s role should be referred on to the appropriate member of the care team and how the worker may facilitate and support the individual in the process
  6. why unused medication should be disposed of safely and how this can be achieved in all settings where individuals may be administering their own medication
  7. what is hazardous and non-hazardous waste in relation to safe disposal of unused medication, how  it can be disposed of safely and the effects of legislation on safe disposal routines (e.g. the Environmental Protection Act)
  8. the role of the local authority and health authorities in disposal of waste.
  9. the therapeutic uses of the medicines used, their normal dosage, side effects and contra-indications
  10. the importance of checking the identity of the individual to whom the medication has been prescribed
  11. the individual’s care programme and the psychiatric and other medications prescribed as part of this
  12. why the assistance required by individuals should be established with them prior to the start and why they should be encouraged to be as actively involved as possible
  13. why individuals and their carers should be aware of the dangers of sharing medication and how the message can be most effectively put across and monitored
  14. the importance of checking that the prescription, or the label on the medicine dispensed by a pharmacist, is clearly written and unambiguous
  15. the information which needs to be on a medicine label and its significance
  16. the importance of checking and considering the dosage, method of administration, route and timing of the administration in the context of the condition of the individual and co-existing therapies
  17. the different ways in which medications are taken, the importance of following the prescribed method, dosage and frequency and the risks if this is not done (such as failure of the medication to work, over-medication, under-medication)
  18. the purpose and appropriate ways of giving support to individuals and the effective ways of doing this to ensure that the medication is taken as prescribed
  19. the nature and purpose of different concordance aids and the importance of assessing the individual’s suitability and understanding of how to use an appropriate aid safely
  20. the risks associated with repackaging dispensed medicines into compliance aids (such as over or under medication, spillage, hygiene factors)
  21. the factors which affect the storage of medicines
  22. the importance of checking the expiry date of medicines, reasons why this should not be exceeded and how to encourage the individual to dispose of out of date medicines
  23. the concerns which individuals may have in relation to medications
  24. the importance of checking signs of allergic reactions to medicines and how to do this
  25. why changes in the individual’s condition should be explored with the individual and the likely causes ascertained
  26. who to contact where contra-indications to the medication are discovered, where the individual develops a reaction to the medicine, or where assessment of the individual indicates that the medicine is no longer suitable
  27. how to establish whether a repeat prescription is necessary
  28. when it is necessary in the plan of care to keep full, accurate and complete records  and how the individual should be encouraged to do so
  29. your own responsibility for recording the medicines given if you have a formal responsibility for the individual
  30. why it is important to make clear, accurate and immediate records of all medication obtained, administered, intentionally withheld, refused by the individual, and disposed of, ensuring that any written record and the signature are clear and legible

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. agree the level of support required by the individual with them and encourage them to be as self-managing as possible
  2. give any assistance required by individuals to obtain prescribed medication
  3. encourage individuals who wish to obtain other remedies to get professional advice in case of an interaction with prescribed medication
  4. encourage individuals to store medication in a secure, safe and appropriate place
  5. discourage individuals from passing medication to others and encourage them to see the reasons why this should not be done
  6. encourage and support the individual to administer the correct dosage of medication using the correct technique and at the correct time and frequency
  7. help the individual to recognise medicines which have expired or are no longer wanted and to dispose of them safely
  8. help the individual to recognise changes in their condition which might be side effects or adverse reactions to the medication and to seek help from the appropriate member of the care team without delay
  9. give the individual appropriate information and advice on the potential implications of their action when individuals will not take the medication as prescribed
  10. seek professional advice without delay when individuals refuse their medication or are unable to take it
  11. encourage and support individuals to complete the necessary documentation accurately, legibly and completely where the care programme states that the administration of medication should be recorded
  12. maintain accurate, legible and complete records relating to the ordering, receipt and disposal of medicines consistent with legal and organisational requirements and protocols

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB4 Enablement to address health and wellbeing needs
MH36 Support individuals to administer their own medication
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk