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Non-prescription medicines and over-the-counter products

Non-prescription medicines and over-the-counter products are known as homely remedies. These can be bought without a prescription from a pharmacy or supermarket (examples include mild pain killers and cough medicines). People in care homes may be offered homely remedies for treating minor ailments. If the care home does this, they should consider having a process, which may include information about:

  • which medicines may be offered and for which symptoms
  • the amount of the medicine that should be given as well as how often
  • the maximum amount of the medicine that should be taken each day
  • where to record that the medicine has been given
  • how long the medicine should be given before the GP is contacted
  • which residents should not be given certain medicines or products (for example, paracetamol should not be given as a homely remedy if a resident is already receiving prescribed paracetamol).

Questions to ask about managing medicines in care homes

  • Who do I ask for information about my medicines?
  • How do I report a bad reaction to a medicine or a side effect?
  • What do I do if I think a medicine isn’t working?
  • Who do I speak to if I want to stop taking a medicine?
  • How often should my medicines be reviewed?
  • Who do I tell if I think a mistake has been made with my medicines?
  • Which staff should be handling my medicines in the care home?
  • Can my relatives help me with my medicines if I visit them?
  • Can care home staff help me with my medicines if I go out of the care home?
  • If I look after my own medicines, how much will the care home staff know about my medicines?
  • Who do I speak to if I’m worried about my relative’s medicines?

Sources of advice and support

You can also go to NHS Choices for more information.

NICE is not responsible for the quality or accuracy of any information or advice provided by these organisations.

ISBN 978-1-4731-0521-8

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