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Self or carer administration of medicine scheme


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You or your carer might be able to take or give (administer) medicines yourself while you are in hospital. This is called self or carer administration of medicines scheme.

On this page, the terms ‘you’ or ‘your’ can mean yourself (as the patient) or someone you care for if they are the patient (for example, your child).

Self or carer administration scheme

Self or carer administration is a scheme that allows you or your carer to be responsible for taking or giving your medicines while you are in the hospital. You will do this on your own, or with a nurse watching you.

This scheme might be helpful if the medicine needs to be taken at set times, or at short notice. For example, if you take insulin for diabetes, or if you have Parkinson’s disease.

Before taking part in the scheme, you will talk to your nurse, midwife, member of pharmacy staff, or doctor about self or carer administration. They can tell you more about what it involves, and why it might be good for you. 

You do not have to take part in this scheme. If you or your carer choose not to take part, the nurse or midwife will give you the medicines while you are in hospital. They will also give you information about how to take your medicines at home.

Taking part in the self administration scheme

Please tell a nurse, midwife, pharmacist or doctor looking after you if you would like to take part in the self administration scheme. Once you have done this, they can explain the scheme in more detail.

Checking you are able to take part

They will then check that you or your carer are able to take part in the scheme. They will check:

  • the reason for your hospital stay
  • how your take your medicines at home
  • any problems or concerns you might have with taking or giving medicines
  • your understanding of the medicines you need to take or give

The checks might show that your current medical condition means that you cannot take part in the scheme, or that you need more support. The hospital team will talk to you about this, and your nurse or midwife will give you your medicines during your hospital stay.

What happens next, if checks show you can take part

If the checks show that you or your carer can take part in the scheme, you or your carer will:

  • be asked to sign a consent form
  • be given a key to your bedside medicines locker (you will be asked to sign when you take and give back the key)
  • be told which medicines you will take or give
  • be given a leaflet as a reminder of how to take or give the medicines
  • be given a sharps bin for the used needles if you are taking injectable medicines, such as insulin

You will take the medicines that you have from home if they are suitable. Other medicines you need will be given to you from the hospital pharmacy.

Each medicine container will have your name, the name of the medicine, and instructions on how to take it. The nurse or midwife will ask you or your carer what medicines you have taken. If you are on medicines with a dose that changes (such as insulin), tell the nurses what dose you have actually had.

If you or your carer forget what medicines you have taken, or if you have any questions about your medicines, please speak to your nurse, midwife, or a member of pharmacy staff.

Benefits of self administration

Self or carer administration will help you to:

  • keep your independence by taking your medicines as you do at home
  • learn more about your medicines and how to use them safely

Can you change your mind?

You or your carer can stop the self administration scheme at any time. Just let the nurse or midwife know.

If you can't self administer for a short time

If you become less well, need to have an anaesthetic, or your carer is not available to give you the medicines, you might need to stop taking part in the self administration scheme for a short amount of time. 

If this happens, the nurse or midwife will give your medicines until your carer is available, or until you are able to give them to yourself again. Your carer should tell your nurse if they cannot give you any doses of medicine.

Your responsibilities when taking part in the scheme

To help keep yourself and those around you safe, you should be aware of the following points.

Do speak to the nurse, midwife or member of pharmacy staff if:

  • you or your carer are having any problems taking your medicines
  • you or your carer lose your medicines locker key
  • you are running low on any medicines
  • you or your carer are worried about anything or have any questions 
  • a visitor or another patient tries to take your medicines

Make sure you speak to your doctor, nurse or member of pharmacy staff about:

  • any side effects straight away
  • the dose you have taken for any variable dose medicines (such as insulin)
  • checking all of your medicines and your medicines locker before you go home
  • returning your bedside medicines storage key before you go home

Do not:

  • take more medicine than the dose on the label
  • take any medicine that you are unsure about
  • store anything inside your bedside medicine locker other than your medicines
  • leave your medicine locker unlocked, even for a short time
  • give your medicine locker key to a relative, visitor or another patient
  • share your medicines with anyone else


Ref number: 3321/VER4

Date published: February 2021 | Review date: October 2021

© 2021 Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

A list of sources is available on request

Where next?

 Contact us

If you have any questions about the self administration of medicines scheme, please speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

You can also contact the Pharmacy Medicines Helpline

Phone: 020 7188 8748, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm


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