Support with taking your medication
- Tips for taking your medication as prescribed
- Check the expiry date
- Side effects of taking medications
- When to get medical advice
- Help and support networks (professional and community)
Taking your medicine as prescribed by your GP is important for controlling any chronic conditions you may have, treating temporary conditions, and your overall long-term health and well-being.
If you find it hard to take your prescribed medication as directed, there are things to do that can make it easy for you to take them on your own:
- keep a diary or planner, and tick off each dose as you take it
- set your clock or mobile alarm to remind you
- put your medication in a place that is part of your daily routine (i.e. next to your breakfast things, on your dining table or eating tray, etc.)
You can use an aid to help you take your medicines such as:
- dosette boxes with alarms
- special containers that are easier to open
You can buy these from your pharmacist and other retailers.
You can also visit AskSara (external link) to find out what equipment is available to help you and where you can buy it.
You should not take medicines after their expiry date.
If you've had a box of medicine for a while, check the expiry date before using it. If you have medicines that have passed their expiry date, take them to your pharmacist, who can dispose of them safely for you.
You should never throw unused or expired medicines in the rubbish bin or flush them down the toilet.
Side effects are unwanted symptoms caused by medical treatment. They are also called "adverse effects" or "adverse reactions".
All medicines can cause side effects, particularly if you don't use them as advised. This includes prescription medicines, medicines you can buy over the counter, and herbal remedies and supplements.
Side effects can range from mild (such as drowsiness or nausea) to life-threatening conditions, although these are rare. The risk of getting side effects varies from person to person.
You should check the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication to see if certain side effects could make it unsafe for you to drive or operate machinery.
If you think that you or someone you are with may be having a serious allergic reaction to a medicine, phone 999 and ask for immediate medical help.
Contact your GP or pharmacist, or phone 111 immediately if:
- you think you have a side effect that is listed as severe in your medicine's patient information leaflet (PIL)
- you have a side effect you think is serious
You don't need to see your GP with mild side effects, such as nausea, if you feel you can manage these on your own. Your pharmacist should also be able to tell you if the side effects need further investigation by your GP.
Pharmacists and district nurses
Your pharmacist or nurse can provide advice and also identify aids to help you take your prescribed medication.
Your pharmacist may also provide a prescription collection and delivery service if you can't do this yourself, but you will need to check with them first.
You can talk to your GP, who can review your medicines and find other ways to help you such as:
- referring you to the district nurses and community health visitors who may review your needs and provide you with support
- provide other medicines such as capsules or liquid that are easier to take
Social care support
If you have a care package that includes home visits, then the home support provider may be able to remind you if their visit coincides with your medication time. Alternatively, if you need additional support we can arrange for a carer to administer your medication.
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