If you are responsible for someone’s medical care, it’s important to manage their medicines very carefully. Not taking them properly or mixing the wrong ones can have very serious consequences. You can ask for a free home medicines review by a pharmacist to highlight any potential problems and get advice that will help you manage.
What is a home medicines review (HMR)?
As a carer, you are responsible for making sure the person you care for gets the right medicines at the right time. Many people in care need a lot of different medicines, and it can be confusing to manage them all correctly.
A home medicines review (HMR) will help the person you care for get the most out of their medicines. An HMR is different from a medication review by a GP or hospital. Doctors make sure the person is receiving the right medicines for their condition. An HMR also makes sure the person is taking those medicines correctly.
First the person you care for will need a referral from your GP to your local pharmacist or a private pharmacist of your choice. They will not need to pay for the home medicines review, but the person you care for may need to pay to see the GP unless they bulk bill.
The pharmacist will talk to you and the person you care for, usually at your home if it’s easiest for you, about the medicines you are giving the person you care for. They will look at everything the person is taking, including prescription medicines, over the counter medicines and vitamins and supplements. They will check everything is being taken correctly and hasn’t passed its use-by date; show you how to store medicines properly; suggest ways of helping you remember to give the person the right medicines at the right time; and suggest whether any medicines could be changed.
The pharmacist can also show you how to use and look after any medical devices the person may need, such as inhalers, blood pressure monitors and blood glucose monitors.
The pharmacist will write a report and send it to your GP. After going through it with you, the GP will then give you a ‘Medication Management Plan’. This should be shared with every healthcare provider who sees the person you care for.
If the person’s circumstances change - for example, if they need to start taking new medicines - you may need another HMR. You can have a free review every 12 months. If you think medicines are affecting the person in their daily life, talk to your GP.
Is an HMR right for them?
It’s a good idea to ask for an HMR if the person takes more than 5 medicines a day, has recently been in hospital, or if you have any worries about the ways medicines are affecting them.
You can also consider a home medicines review if you are confused or likely to forget some of their medicines, if you’re not sure how to give them, or if you’re worried about your own ability to manage their medicines (for example, if you have poor eyesight).
Getting a Medication Management Plan for the person you care for is a good idea in case someone else ever needs to give the person their medicines, (for example, if you are away or ill). It’s worth listing the person’s medicines in your emergency care plan for them.
Tools to help a home medicines review
These tools and resources can help you, the pharmacist conducting the HMR and the doctor preparing a Medication Management Plan.
- Healthdirect: You can search for medicines by their brand name or active ingredient, read the patient information, see a picture of what the medicine looks like, click through to the government's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to see if the medicine is subsidised in Australia, and click through to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to see if the medicine is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
- Webster-pak: You can ask the pharmacist to put all the medicines into a Webster-pak, a sealed weekly calendar that helps you remember when to give the person their medicines.
- Visit the NPS Medicinewise website for hints and tips on managing medicines.
- Create a My Health Record. This is a secure online summary of health information. You can control what goes into it, and who is allowed to access it. You can choose to share the health information with doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers.
- Create an emergency care kit, so that someone knows how to look after the person you care for if anything should happen to you.
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Last reviewed: February 2018