Medication can be life-saving, not only in emergency and acute situations but in treating chronic conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma too.
It can also be dangerous if taken incorrectly, in too-large doses or by someone for whom the medication was not originally prescribed.
If your medication is prescribed by your GP or hospital doctor, it is crucial you take it exactly as you have been told, i.e. the right amount at the right time.
It is equally important to take the correct dosage of over-the-counter drugs. Even common painkillers like paracetamol can be dangerous if you take too many in any given period of time.
Over-the-counter medication should not be used with prescribed medication unless a doctor has confirmed it is safe to do so.
Be certain to keep all medication well out of the reach of children.
Help to take medication
If you regularly forget to take your medication – or you need assistance to take it – you might be able to have help as part of your care package. Mention it to your social worker or if you do not currently receive a package of care, contact your local council’s social services department and ask for a needs assessment.
Helping someone else to take medication
If you are looking after someone, they may ask your help to take their medication. This is fine, as long as it has been prescribed by a doctor or authorised person.
Follow the instructions on the packet or dosette box carefully. If the person refuses medication seek advice from their GP. Do not crush pills, open capsules or mix either with food or drink and never force someone to take medication without their consent.
Always take any unused – or out-of-date – medication back to the pharmacist, who will dispose of it safely.
If you or the person you are looking after has to take regular medication, find out if your GP is participating in the repeat medication scheme. If they are, you just need to register with the local pharmacy. Your GP will send your prescription direct to the pharmacy.
Some pharmacies also offer free home delivery services to people who find it difficult to pick up their prescriptions.
To find your nearest pharmacy (or the one closest to your GP), search NHS Direct Wales (use your post code, town or the name of the pharmacy).
Dosette boxes and blister packs
If you take tablets at different times of the day, you might prefer to use a dosette-style box with separate compartments morning, afternoon and evening. This will help you remember to take the right tablet at the right time of day.
You can fill your own dosette box (or ask a family member to do it for you) or you can ask your pharmacist to supply your regular medications in a special type of dosette box with sealed compartments – this is called a blister pack.
You can also buy automatic pill dispensers which beep at the right time and allow only the right pills to be taken.
Minor Ailments Scheme
Many pharmacies across Wales are part of this scheme (though not all) which eliminates the need to visit a GP surgery for common minor ailments, like athletes’ foot, chicken pox, conjunctivitis, head lice, constipation, haemorrhoids and thrush.
You simply go along to your local pharmacy for advice from a qualified health professional. Any medication that is recommended is provided free of charge.