Abbeyfield – Using medication dispensers to improve quality of care

“The medication dispenser is something we use a lot to support our residents. In several cases without it the individual would have gone into residential care much sooner. It helped one gentleman manage his pain; without the dispenser, he was taking his medication when experiencing pain, rather than four hourly as advised by his GP. Once we put it into the dispenser he took it exactly as prescribed and was pain free. His son expressed his gratitude for the improvement in his father’s wellbeing. We’ve also used the dispenser to support a lady who had limited dexterity and struggled to open her medication packaging. Another resident was visually impaired due to macular degeneration and was extremely worried about taking the wrong medication. Her son filled her dispenser for her once a month and she was much calmer. They are a fantastic tool.”

The challenge

It’s estimated that people over 75 account for at least 45% of the annual prescription cost, with 35 – 40% of them taking four or more medicines. A survey of GPs found that 79% of them were not confident that this cohort of patients were taking their medication correctly six months after consultation.

Failing to take medication as prescribed can lead to deterioration in health and increase the risk of confusion and falls.

How is Abbeyfield using medication dispensers to help the people it supports remain safe and independent for longer?

What we did

Abbeyfield is a national charity that provides care home and supported living accommodation and care at home services throughout the UK. It uses medication dispensers to help support many its residents, many of whom are anxious about taking their medicines correctly, or may have mild to moderate dementia. The dispensers have a 28-day carousel which can be filled by a family member, and provides visual and audible alerts to the user each time medication should be taken.

Abbeyfield staff and visiting home care staff can prompt residents to take medication, and assist them by providing a glass of water, but as they are not registered care providers they are unable to administer. Using the medication dispenser provides automatic reminders throughout the day to residents as required, and care visits can be timed to enable staff to confirm that medication has been accessed.

The dispenser can be used as a stand-alone device or can be linked to a Lifeline Vi home unit which in turn can raise an alert at the monitoring centre or on a mobile phone if medication is not taken at the correct times. Dispensers can also be linked to sensors such as flashing beacons to alert users who are hard of hearing for example.


Non-compliance when taking medication can have serious adverse effects, whether from missing doses or overdosing. Anxiety related to worry regarding taking medicine properly can also have a negative effect on health, disrupting sleep and causing fatigue and confusion, in turn making it more difficult for residents to manage their medicines properly.

Using the medication dispenser helps residents to feel better because of taking their medication as prescribed, it also relieves the worry, for them and their families, that they are not taking their medicines properly.

Using the dispensers also supports staff as it makes it easier for them to prompt residents to take their medication at the right time, as they will be alerted by the unit when they visit if the resident has failed to take their medication. Residents find the dispenser easy touse, and respond well to staff reassuring them that if the unit isn’t making a beeping noise then they have taken their medicines as they should, which gives them peace of mind.

Using medication dispensers also means that medicine is kept secure, as it is locked into the device and cannot be taken until the correct time. This avoids issues such as packets of tablets being opened and muddled or taken inappropriately.

The dispensers also support independence, giving residents the tools to manage medication themselves and increase their wellbeing, enabling them to remain at home for longer.

Solutions for social care

Our Connected Care solutions have been designed to support a wide range of people, including older people, people at risk of falls, people with limited mobility, people with learning disabilities, people with dementia and people with conditions such as epilepsy


01977 661234

Tunstall Healthcare (UK) Ltd
Whitley Lodge
DN14 0HR


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