Medication Management in Assisted Living and the Rule of Five Rights

Medication management is an extremely important element of assisted living for residents. Medication management is defined as a service intended to help residents of an assisted living community to manage prescription medication schedules, symptoms, and changes. Medication management is a guided approach to taking medications. Typically, medication management begins with discussing medical history and history of medications. This type of healthcare management is a process and protocol that best ensures that a resident of assisted living will receive appropriate medications at the right times in proper dosages. 

In this article, we discuss the Rule of Five Rights of medication management. In advance of discussing the Rule of Five Rights, we spend a moment to discuss the basic benefits associated with medication management. 

The elements of the Rule of Five Rights of medication management are:

  • Right medication
  • Right patient
  • Right dose
  • Right time
  • Right route

Primary Benefits of Medication Management in Assisted Living

Long-term operators of assisted living communities have isolated the primary benefits of medication management in these types of long-term care facilities:

  • Reduce stress about when and how to take medication
  • Provide help when symptoms or reactions from medication occur
  • Offers a more personalized approach to resident when it comes to treatment
  • Provides a collaborative approach to care to medication that includes the prospect of multiple doctors can determine more accurate prescribing
  • Allows residents to remain actively engaged in their treatment
  • Increases the chances for medication accuracy, efficacy. and successful treatment outcomes
  • Reduces the cost of medications as patients don’t pay for medications that fail to work for them or need to go to the hospital as the result of adverse reactions to medications
  • Increases overall patient satisfaction with care
  • Allows for better patient comfort as side effects and worries are addressed immediately and continuously

Right Medication

The first right in the Rule of Five Rights is making certain the medication being provided to an assisted living resident is the proper drug. This sounds so obvious it doesn’t even warrant being mentioned. 

The grave reality is that with alarming frequency, people in a variety of settings take the wrong medication and face serious consequences as a result. Administering the wrong medication happens so frequently that it is the sixth most common reason for medical malpractice lawsuits in the United States.

Giving an assisted living resident the wrong medication to self-administer is particularly common when an individual takes multiple medications at different times during the course of any given day. This is compounded by the fact that some medications have very similar names. 

Right Patient

As mentioned elsewhere in this article, nearly all elderly people take a medication or multiple medications. As a result, it is safe to assume that nearly ever resident of an assisted living community will be taking at least one and likely more medications during the course of any given day. Because of the number of residents receiving medications in an assisted living community, it is vital to confirm on each encounter that a specific resident is being provided the correct medication or medications.

Right Dose

The third right in medication management is ensuring a resident takes the right dose of a drug. The stark and grim reality is that even a single improper dosage of a medication can have severely negative and even deadly consequences. It’s always appropriate to double check the dosage each time a resident of an assisted living community is provided medication. 

Right Time

Taking a medication at the right time is vital. Taking a medication at the prescribed time ensures that a resident has the proper amount of medication in his or her system. In addition, taking a medication at the right time is important to ensure that a resident doesn’t dangerously overdose on that drug.

When a staff member presents a medication to a resident of assisted living to self-administer, it is important to confirm the last time the drug was provided to that individual. There should be a written record of when the resident was provided the medication. It also is wise to ask the resident directly when he or she last took the medication in question. 

Right Route

Accuracy in the manner in which a medication is administered is crucial when it comes to medication management. Administration accuracy is also known as taking the right route for providing a dosage of medication to a resident of an assisted living facility in the proper way.

An example of using the right route is taking a medication in pill form. Assume for the moment that the prescribed medication is a time released product. As a consequence, the coating on the pill is highly important because it plays a role in the time release process. 

As a consequence, the medication is to be taken by swallowing a pill (or dose) in its entirety. Grinding up the pill and blending it with food or in a liquid can defeat the time released element of the medication. In other words, a resident will not be taking that particular medication in the proper manner. 

By adhering to the Rule of Five Rights of medication management in an assisted living community, resident health and wellbeing is better protected on a consistent basis. A resident of an assisted living community is able to have access to beneficial medications with the confidence in knowing that it is being made available in a suitable and appropriate manner.