Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.5: Understand how to support children who are unwell
Learning outcome: Understand care routines when a child is ill
Assessment criteria: Outline the procedures for: storage of medication, administration of medication, record-keeping with regard to medication
All Early Years settings will have policies and procedures relating to the storage and administration of medication. They ensure that practitioners work in a way that adheres to legal requirements and best practices. It is important that you are familiar with the agreed ways of working for your own setting.
There are several reasons that children in your setting may require medication. They may have a long-term medical condition, such as epilepsy, that requires regular medication. Or use pro re nata (PRN) medication as and when needed (e.g. an asthma inhaler). Some children may also have a temporary course of medication, such as antibiotics.
Medication should be stored according to the instructions on the packaging. In addition, medication is classed as a hazardous substance and so is subject to health and safety legislation, particularly the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.
It is important that medication is stored securely. This means that it cannot be accessed by children or unauthorised persons. Your employer’s policies and procedures will describe where and how the medication should be stored in your own setting.
For example, your employer may store medication in a locked cupboard that is out of the reach of the children.
Some medications must be kept at cooler temperatures in the refrigerator, and so steps must be taken to ensure that the refrigerator is secure.
Medication should only be administered by practitioners that have had relevant training. The level of training required will vary between application methods – for example, administering epinephrine using an EpiPen requires more training than administering Calpol. Your setting may have nominated persons (such as first aiders) that are the only people authorised to administer medication.
Medication must be provided by the parents/carers, and they must provide their written consent. It is good practice to ensure that medications are kept in their original packaging. Some Early Years settings may only administer medicines prescribed by a medical professional, while others may make exceptions for non-prescribed medication, such as pain relief. It is important to be familiar with the policies and procedures of your own setting.
When administering medication, practitioners should always read and adhere to the directions on the label. This ensures that the medication is administered correctly and the dosage is right. Overdosing and underdosing could lead to negative health issues for the child. Any related documentation should be read, and the child’s name should be cross-checked with what is written on the medication. The expiry date should also be checked to ensure that the medication has not gone out of date.
During administration, hygiene should be of the utmost importance, with practitioners washing their hands before and after the activity and wearing Personal Protective (PPE) gloves if required.
It is essential to maintain records when administering medication. Again, the specifics will vary between settings, but in general, practitioners should record:
- The name of the child
- The date and time when the medicine was administered
- The name and dosage of the medicine
- How the medication was administered (e.g. orally, intravenously etc.)
- The reason for the administration
Your setting may use a Medication Administration Record (MAR) sheet to record this information.