Medication Policy: Medication Storage

Creating a Medication Policy for Recovery Housing > Medication Policy: Medication Storage


Medication Storage for Scheduled Substances : Level III

In Level III recovery homes, residents are very early in their recovery and are likely to need more support in managing their own scheduled medications.  At Level III homes there is also staff present whenever residents are present.  Therefore, in Level III homes residents store their scheduled medications in a locked room where staff are needed to access the medications.  Processes must be in place to ensure that the residents can access critical medications when they need them.  For example, residents who may need insulin or an epi pen should be permitted to have these items on them in case they are likely to be needed immediately for a specific medical condition.  Additionally, if a resident needs to take their medicine at a specific time, staff schedules should be adjusted to ensure that the resident can access their medicine.

It is best practice to have a system where both the staff person and resident are needed to access medication.  For example, many recovery homes have a cabinet or storage unit that is locked. Staff are needed to unlock the larger storage unit.  Inside this unit, each resident has their own locked storage container, and the staff member can not access the medication unless the resident is present to unlock their own storage container.  This will prevent situations or accusations that staff have removed or taken resident medication.

Medication Storage for Scheduled Substances : Level II

For Level II environments, all residents have at least 28 days in recovery or are getting appropriate supervision and support.  Some Level II environments are able to offer a high level of medication support where there is a staff person who can lock and unlock storage and support residents when they need their medications.  That is certainly ok.  However, many Level II homes may not have the staff to support this.

A minimum for a Level II environment should provide a locked location for residents to store their scheduled medications.  The home’s policy needs to be clear about what is to be kept locked.  Most homes simply require that all prescriptions are kept locked, unless they are needed to be on their person for emergencies, such as an epi pen.  This may reduce confusion, and having to check the scheduled substances list.  However, it may be difficult to implement if residents are taking many medications.

When staff performs safety checks of the home, they should ensure that the medications are kept in these locations and not placed out in bathrooms or on dressers. They can quickly see if medication is left out, without having to examine it to determine what medication it is.

Medication Storage for Scheduled Substances : Level I

For Level I environments, residents determine many of their policies.  However, at a minimum, medications must be put away.  When safety checks are completed, medications should be put away out of site of other residents and visitors.

Many Level I recovery home residents do decide that keeping their medications locked is in the best interests of safety of residents and so they choose to do this.