Dec 18, 2023

How to maintain medication safety over the holiday period

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‘Tis the season for venturing on holidays and taking loved ones out of residential care settings for some time with the family, but how can you ensure medication safety is still maintained? [Source: Shutterstock]

The holiday season brings joy and celebrations for many but it can also signify a time of disrupted routine – something older people and those living in aged care need to consider when it comes to managing their medication. 

Maybe you’re going away with family or you are planning to take an older loved one out of their facility for a couple of days. Whatever antics you may be getting up to over the festive period, it’s important well-being is at the forefront of planning, which includes keeping on top of medications. 

Founder and Managing Director at Webstercare, Gerard Stevens AM, emphasised the importance of health during this period. 

“Amidst the joyous festivities that characterise the holiday season, it is of utmost importance to remain vigilant and conscientious about safeguarding your health,” he said.

But for those living in residential care, some things need to be arranged before taking a loved one away for a while.

Director and Group Chief Executive Officer of Leecare Group, Doctor Caroline Lee, said having a chat with the clinical Registered Nurse (RN) on-site before making arrangements to take residents out of the facility is very important.

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Dr Caroline Lee. [Source: LinkedIn]

Her tips for taking a resident out during the holidays include: 

  • Discussing medications with the RN in charge of your loved one’s ward before taking them out of the facility. The RN will give you a walkthrough of what your loved one needs to be taking, when and any other specifics related to their care
  • Organising the handover of your loved one’s medication packs/sachets/sheets with care managers 
  • Obtaining a copy of your loved one’s medication chart so you can verify what is required for the day and confirm or double-check medications. Some medication management systems used by facilities can generate this information in a chart-style format, using real-time data
  • Allowing time to ensure the medication chart is detailed, clear and current as per the doctor’s orders with care management, especially if the home is awaiting a delivery of dispensed medications before the resident leaves

For those living independently, considerations need to be made before jetting off on your own adventure.

For independent older people, consider:

  • Forging a connection with your pharmacist for peace of mind before embarking on any holiday adventures. Pharmacists can discuss a Pharmacist Shared Medicines List with you, which is a list of medicines you may be taking created by a pharmacist or healthcare provider. This can be a handy reference if you are managing chronic diseases and/ or are taking multiple medications, reducing the risk of medication-related issues
  • Using a dose administration aid such as a pill box organiser or a Webster-pak from your pharmacist to have your daily medications portioned out in easy-to-access packaging. This eliminates the need to carry multiple packages or sleeves of individual medications – saving you from remembering every medication and allowing a bit more room in your luggage

These tips can help you maintain peace of mind as well as medication safety so you can spend your holidays how you want to. These strategies can help you forge positive medication safety habits during the holiday seasons but also well into the new year!

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