Taking medicines and remembering to take them

Once you have agreed with your healthcare professional the medicine and dose you are going to use to help you, and what side effects to look out for, the next step is to actually take the medicine. This can lead to more questions!

 

Where can I find basic information about taking my medicine?

You may have questions like “can I take this medicine with food?” or“what if I forget a dose?”. These questions are important to get the best from your medicine.

In most cases the answers will be found on the 'patient information leaflet' (PIL) that comes inside the medicine packet or box. These leaflets can often seem a bit scary, because they must include a lot of very honest information. This can include telling you about very rare side effects. People are often put off taking a medicine after they have read a leaflet, but try not to worry and discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional.

If the leaflet isn’t helpful, then you can find out more about mental health medicines and how to take them at the Choice and Medication website.

This is an independent website, not linked to any medicines manufacturer. Leaflets about individual mental health medicines are available in different formats and a range of languages.

 

Taking medicines as planned

Sometimes people have difficulty remembering to take their medicines at regular times. This is not only people with mental health conditions, it is a recognised problem for lots of other people too.

If this is a problem for you or someone you know, the best place to seek advice is your community pharmacy. If you are an inpatient with us then you can speak to a member of the pharmacy team supporting your ward.

Often the answers can be simple. Moving medicine doses so they are taken just once or twice a day is one example that can be helpful. In other cases it is possible for patients to be given a reminder card for them to tick-off when they have taken their doses each day.

In a few cases medicines can be provided in a “compliance aid”. This is a device or type of packaging that divides medicines into the times they should be taken over a 7-day period. For some people this can help to remind them what they have already taken, if they have problems remembering this.

Compliance aids are not always the answer to the problem however. People must still remember to take their medicines even if they are provided in slightly different packaging. Another complication is that some types of medicine cannot be placed in one of these aids as they might become less effective when exposed to air or light. We also can’t use this kind of packaging for liquids, inhalers, suppositories or any medicines that you take “when needed”.  Sometimes they make the situation more complicated, not easier.
 

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