The Patients Association’s Care Home Charter for Medicines is an evidence-based and expert-led tool to help improve medication practices for people living in care homes across the UK.

You can download the Charter in full here.

This page goes into more detail about what care home residents can expect from care home staff and management.

When I am staying in a care home, I expect the people responsible for my care to:

  1. Actively involve me in decisions about my medicines

As a resident, you should always be involved in decisions about what medicines you take, when and how you take them and any changes to your medicines. If you are no longer make these decisions, a family member, along with a healthcare professional, will work together to make sure you continue to receive the best possible care. 

  1. Help and support me make shared decisions about my medicines.

Everyone looking after you will make sure you have as much information about the effects of your medicines as possible, including potential unwanted side effects. If you are worried about anything to do with your medicines, the care home staff will listen to you and suggest alternatives if possible. Everyone responsible for your care will be made aware of these decisions and discussions. 

  1. Involve me in regular monitoring and review of my medications and make sure I understand why this is being done

As you get older, your needs may change. Therefore, your medicines may need to change to make sure they are still the best ones for you. This means there should be regular medicines reviews to check your medicines still suit you and they keep you as well as possible.

  1. Make sure that medicines are given to me in a form and route appropriate to my needs and abilities

The way in which my medicines are given to you will be checked regularly to make sure you can still take them easily. It may be that you need a change in the formulation of your medicines. Staff will ensure that the formulation choice remains appropriate for you. 

  1. Make sure that medicines will only be given with my consent, unless I lack the capacity to do so

Your human rights mean that you should always be treated with dignity and respect. It is against your rights if a carer tries to give you a medicine against your wishes. 

  1. Respect the advance decisions or directives I make regarding refusing medicines

As a resident, you may choose to decide what treatments to accept or refuse in the future. Your wishes will be recorded and respected.

  1. Make sure that medicines are not given to me hidden in my food or drink unless it is in my best interests and all legal requirements have been met

You should never be given medicines against your wishes. This means that your medicines should not be hidden in your food and drink. If a resident lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about their medicines, a ‘best interest’ meeting with the healthcare team and your carer or advocate may occur. 

  1. Examine my mouth to ensure that my oral health needs are being met

Sometimes as you get older, parts of your mouth don’t work as well as they used to. This means your mouth may be dry and it may be difficult to swallow. Your carers will regularly check that your mouth is healthy to prevent any problems. 

  1. Recognise when I am unable to swallow safely

Some illnesses can make it more difficult to swallow your medicines and your carers should check that you are able to swallow. They will look for signs of swallowing difficulty and make sure it is safe for you to eat and drink. You may need to see a speech and language therapist who will look at your ability to swallow. Your medicines will also be reviewed so you can take them easily and safely.

Download the Care Home Charter for Medicines

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Contact the Patients Association helpline

The Patients Association offers a free national helpline providing specialist information and advice to help patients make sense of their health and social care.  

Patients can talk directly to trained advisers in strict confidence about any concerns, questions or general experiences they have regarding the NHS and social care systems.  

The helpline is open from 9.30 am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and calls outside these times are returned as soon as possible during opening hours. 

This information was updated on 21st February 2022 and will be reviewed in August 2023.