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Home medicines review

4-minute read

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)?

A home medicines review (HMR) is when an accredited pharmacist checks the medicines you are taking at home.

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 their GP to a local pharmacist ,a private pharmacist of your choice or one the doctor recommends. 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 home medicines 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:

  • is taking more than 5 medicines a day
  • is concerned about their medicines
  • is confused or doesn’t always remember to take their medicines
  • needs to be closely monitored because of the medicines they take
  • takes medicines that can have serious interactions with other medicines
  • feels unwell after taking medicines
  • isn’t feeling better on the medicines
  • has recently been in hospital
  • has recently had changes to the medicines they’re taking

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 Sports Integrity Australia 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.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2020

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