Pre-packaged medication

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1 Learning Guide Pre-packaged medication Describe pre-packaged medication and the process for its use in a health or wellbeing setting Level 2 2 credits Name: Workplace: Issue 3.0

2 An important note about the scope of this unit standard The learning for this unit standard means you will be able to check that a person who is self-medicating is about to take the right medication but only if this role is expected of you by your organisation and the person s personal plan. Careerforce would like to make it clear that when you complete this learning guide or unit standard, you are not adequately trained or competent to administer medication. Administer means to open the packaging or give the medication to the person, or both. If you are expected to administer pre-packaged medications in your role as a support worker, you will need to be trained for those specific medications. Those training needs will be addressed in your organisation s policies and procedures. Creative commons This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial Licence. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work and to adapt the work. You must attribute Careerforce as the author. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. For more information contact Careerforce at

3 Contents Introduction... 1 Pre-packaged medication... 2 How it works... 2 Types of pre-packaged medication... 3 Why use pre-packaged medication?... 8 Benefits... 8 Potential risks... 8 How to support a person to use pre-packaged medication... 9 Process The 5 Rs Opening a blister pack You have finished! Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April 2015

4 Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April 2015

5 Introduction The people you support may need to take pre-packaged medication. You need to know what this is and how to help people use it. How to use your learning guide This learning guide supports your learning and prepares you for the unit standard assessment. This learning guide relates to the following unit standard: Describe pre-packaged medication and the process for its use in a health or wellbeing setting (level 2, 2 credits). This learning guide is yours to keep. Make it your own by writing notes that help you remember things, or where you need to find more information. Follow the tips in the notes column. You may use highlighter pens to show important information and ideas, and think about how this information applies to your work. You might find it helpful to talk to your colleagues or supervisor. Complete this learning guide before you start the assessment. What you will learn This learning guide will help you to: describe what pre-packaged medication is. describe the process to be followed when supporting a person to use pre-packaged medication. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

6 Pre-packaged medication Pre-packaged medication covers a person s medication for a period of time, for example, a week or a month. Examples of pre-packaged medication A medication is a legal drug that helps people with their health. Medication can be used to: stop a person getting sick. For example, if you travel overseas, you may need to take medication to stop you getting foreign diseases. help a person get better. For example, Kylie has an infection in her eye, so she takes an antibiotic to stop the infection and help her recover. lessen a person s pain or other problem, if that problem can't be cured. For example, Betty has arthritis. She takes pills for the pain and to lessen the inflammation. How it works The pharmacy or chemist puts together medication prescribed by the doctor and divides it into packages. The packages have important instructions and information on them. Tablets and capsules are the only kinds of medication that can be pre-packaged. Each package might contain different types of tablets and capsules. Talk Talk to your supervisor about training and workplace policies on using pre-packaged medication. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

7 Types of pre-packaged medication There are different types of pre-packaged medication. The ones at your workplace might look different to the following examples, but they will work in the same way. Blister packs Blister packs are trays that hold the tablets and capsules a person needs for a period of time, usually a week or a month. There are separate blisters for when the medicine should be taken, for example, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime. Blister packs may be packed manually by a person or robotically by a machine. Blister packs may have information on the front and the back. Newer packs have all the information on the back and weeks are colour-coded. This reduces confusion over which blister to open for the medicine to be taken next. Blister pack information must include details of the pharmacy and prescription number, the name of the person the medicine is for, the medicine name and dosage and directions for taking the medicine, including any special instructions and cautionary note. The person s photo may be on the pack. Blister Each blister lists the person s name, the contents and the date, day and time to be taken. Count the pills in each blister and make sure the correct numbers of pills are there. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

8 Cautionary and advisory labels Cautionary and advisory notes may be written on the label or may be little yellow stickers that are applied by the pharmacist. These notes cover a range of topics, from advice on the correct way to take the medication to warnings on possible side effects. Blister pack one month This monthly blister has all the information on the back of the pack. Each week is colour-coded. The place to start is clearly marked. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

9 In the image of the one week sample pack below, a circle has been drawn around the medication to be taken at dinner time on Thursday. Do it Circle the blister that should be taken on Saturday at breakfast time. Blister pack one week Detailed information will be on the back of this pack. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

10 Cassettes Cassettes are similar to blister packs. They hold the tablets and capsules a person will need for a week. Unlike blister packs, cassettes are made of solid plastic and can be refilled by the pharmacy. The dose for each time of day is also individually sealed in plastic. Each day of the cassette slides out so you can get to each dose for that day. More info A dose is the medication a person takes at one time. Cassette The backing sheet contains information on all the medication a person is taking, including things that aren t contained in the cassette such as ointments or suppositories. The medication contained in the cassette has instructions on when and how it is to be taken. More info Never give a person medication that has already been opened. It might be damaged or mixed up with a different medication. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

11 Sachet packaging Sachet packaging is when each dose is put in a separate envelope. These envelopes are provided in a long strip and you tear off each envelope when you need it. The instructions are on the envelope. Examples of sachet envelopes, front and back. A robot packaging machine Sachets are packed by robot machines and this may also be called robotic packaging. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

12 Why use pre-packaged medication? There are many good things about pre-packaged medication, but there are also some risks. Benefits Here are some benefits of using pre-packaged medication: People make fewer mistakes with pre-packaged medication. This means the person is less likely to take the wrong medication. The support worker can see which dose should be taken next and when it should be taken. The medication is already organised. This means the person doesn't have to organise different bottles and containers. The person is more likely to complete a course of medication. This means the person is more likely to recover completely. Each dose is individually sealed so is less likely to be damaged. This means the person gets the best quality medication. It can be seen if the package has been tampered with. More info A person can die if they take the wrong medication. Pre-packaged medication makes this less likely to happen. Potential risks Here are some potential risks of using pre-packaged medication: If a person misses a dose, they miss all the medication they should have taken at that time. If one of the medications is stopped, all of the doses have to be changed. If the person has difficulty using their hands, they may find the packages hard to open. The packages can be expensive as there may be an extra charge in receiving medicine this way. The packages can be quite large. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

13 How to support a person to use pre-packaged medication You need to know how to follow your workplace s policies and procedures for supporting a person to use pre-packaged medication. This means you will know how to check that the person is about to take the right medication but only if this is expected of you by your organisation and the person s personal plan. Important note about your role The learning for this unit standard does not mean that you are adequately trained or competent to administer medication. Administer means to open the packaging or give the medication to the person, or both. If you are expected to administer pre-packaged medications in your role as a support worker, you will need to be trained for those specific medications. Those training needs will be addressed in your workplace s policies and procedures. A person taking pre-packaged medication Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

14 Process When you support a person to use pre-packaged medication, there are steps you must follow: 1 Check if you need to support the person. This is the first thing you must do. Not all people who use prepackaged medication need support. The person s personal plan will tell you if they need support. If it's not mentioned, you don't have to support or remind them. 2 Check the instructions. Wash or sanitise your hands before handling the package of medication. Remember that you are not allowed to administer the medication yourself. Find out about the medication and carefully read the instructions on the package. Look for any cautionary or advisory labels. 3 Check that the person is ready. Make sure the person: has clean hands. is sitting upright. is fully alert. has a sip of water before taking the tablets. A moist mouth makes tablets easier to take. has water to sip between taking the tablets if there are more than one to take. has a full glass of water ready to drink after taking the last tablet. This will wash the tablets out of the mouth and throat and into the stomach. 4 Follow the 5 Rs. The 5 Rs help you work with pre-packaged medication correctly. See the next page for more details. 5 Record what the person has taken. How this is done will depend on your workplace. Talk to your supervisor about recording policies and using signing or medication sheets. It is especially important to record if medication was not taken, and the reasons why. 6 Report any concerns. If anything goes wrong, or if you re worried about anything, report it to your employer or supervisor. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

15 The 5 Rs The 5 Rs are a way of checking that you are supporting a person to use pre-packaged medication correctly. Your workplace s policies will tell you how to check the 5 Rs. 1 Right person The name on the medication must be the same name as the person taking the medicine. Check the person s name before they take the medication. You can do this by: checking the person s identification bracelet, name tag or badge, if they are wearing one. looking at their photograph on medication packs or medication sheets or in their personal plan. You must NEVER give medication to a person who is not named on the package. 2 Right medicine The name of the medicine on the pre-packaged medication must match the medication sheet. 3 Right dose The dose of the medicine on the pre-packaged medication must match the medication sheet. 4 Right route The way the medicine enters the body (for example, taken by mouth or absorbed through the skin) on the pre-packaged medication must match the medication sheet. 5 Right time The time (and date) the medication is taken on the pre-packaged medication must match the medication sheet, for example, breakfast time on Tuesday 8 March. Remember to record what the person has taken, if you are required to do so, and report any concerns. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

16 Opening a blister pack All blister packs must be opened from the back. The packs should not be twisted or the tablets popped out as this may damage the medication. The company supplying blister packs may also supply a special opener or pick. If there is no opener supplied, use the end of a teaspoon handle. The label should be checked before the blister is opened. Only open blister packs if you are authorised to do so and have been trained by your organisation. Instructions for opening blisters Separate the blister needed. The person should run their fingers over the back of the blister until a ring appears. Using the opener pick or the end of a teaspoon handle, puncture a hole in the foil. Run the spoon end or pick around the inside of the ring. Peel back the foil and check the contents. Once opened, the blister provides a cup containing the medication. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

17 You have finished! Great work you ve finished this learning guide. Now you can: describe what pre-packaged medication is. describe the process to be followed when supporting a person to use pre-packaged medication. Pre-packaged medication (US 23685) Learning Guide Careerforce Issue 3.0 April

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