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A Simple Guide to Pill Organisers & Dosette Boxes

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

It’s common for older people to have at least one long-term health condition. But it can be complex and difficult to manage care for multiple health concerns at the same time. Sometimes the needs of one condition can conflict with another. Likewise, some medications can interact negatively. And, of course, it can be a challenge to take every medication at the right time and dosage every day.

So how can an older person make sure they are taking their medicines correctly when they have several pill bottles or packs to manage?

One solution is a pill organiser or dosette box. These can be very helpful for some seniors – but they also have some drawbacks, as we will discuss below.

What is a pill organiser or dosette box?

A pill organiser is a plastic box designed to help people take their medications correctly. Often, the box will contain seven compartments, each corresponding to the day of the week. But sometimes the box will contain compartments for different times of day as well as different days of the week.

In any case, the difference with a dosette box is that each day’s pills are placed in the compartments rather than being left in their original blister or bottle packaging. The idea is to help people manage a complex medication regime without becoming confused or missing doses.

A dosette box, multi-compartment compliance aid or blister pack is similar to a pill organiser. One main difference is that it is meant to be disposable, so the plastic compartments are held together by cardboard. Another is that chemists might dispense pills in the form of a dosette box, whereas pill organisers are usually used with pills that were dispensed in traditional bottles or packs.

In other words, with a dosette box, the chemist takes on the job of sorting pills into the correct days and times, whereas with a pill organiser, you typically do that yourself.

Where can you get a pill organiser or dosette box?

Pill organisers are widely available at online retailers and at chemists.

Dosette boxes were once widely used by chemists to dispense medicines to people who had to manage several ongoing prescriptions.

However, in the early 2020s, chemists began to move away from this approach somewhat. As the BBC reported in 2022, the decision was controversial. Many people believed that the dosette box played a crucial role in helping them to take medication on time each day.

Do chemists or the NHS provide dosette boxes for free?

Older people who are used to receiving medication in dosette boxes may believe that they are entitled to continue receiving it that way.

However, that’s not the case. Some people are entitled to receive dosette boxes, but not everyone is.

What are the qualifications to receive a dosette box? Well, the 2010 Equality Act sets them out. It says that “reasonable adjustments” should be made in order to help people take their medications appropriately.

So, people with some disabilities may be entitled to receive a dosette box for free. Some chemists may decide to provide free dosette boxes to others, but this comes down to the choice of the shop’s managers.

How to use a pill organiser

If you don’t receive your medication in dosette boxes from the chemist, you can still use a pill organiser yourself.

Simply sit down after you receive your medications and organise the pills into the appropriate boxes for the week – or get someone to help you do so.

When are pill organisers or dosette boxes useful?

As you can see, there is some debate around the question of how important pill organisers or dosette boxes really are.

Some older people and their carers may rely on them heavily. An elderly person who has a mild form of dementia might find it very useful to have their pills already sorted into the appropriate dates and times. In general, a senior who wants to live independently may appreciate the help a dosette box or pill organiser provides.

Carers may also appreciate pill organisers or dosette boxes as a way to manage the medication of a person living in a care home. When a carer is caring for multiple people who might have similar-looking medicines, a pill organiser can be immensely helpful in avoiding confusion.

However, the Care Quality Commission argues that dosette boxes are not necessarily the best option. For one, it explains that carers need to know what individual medicines look like in case one of them needs to be discontinued.

How SureSafe works with other tools to help older people stay independent

At SureSafe, we often advocate for older people to use every tool that’s at their disposal to help them stay independent. Sophisticated devices like personal alarms for the elderly can work together with physical home adaptations like grab bars to create a home environment that’s safer, easier and more comfortable for the elderly.

When it comes to pill organisers and dosette boxes, however, it’s best to consider the situation of each particular older person and whether it’s right for them. A GP might be able to help you decide.

Another issue that comes with long-term health conditions is the threat of medication interactions or side effects. In fact, troublesome side effects like tiredness or dizziness are a problem experienced by many older people.

That’s why personal alarms can be so crucial. If a medication side effect or interaction leads an older person to faint or become dizzy and fall, it’s important that they can get up again or get help. A SureSafe fall alarm protects against just this situation. It detects an older person’s fall all by itself, even if the older person isn’t able to press any buttons.

How else can our personal alarms help older people with long-term health conditions? We’d be happy to speak to you and discuss how our alarms could provide peace of mind for you or an elderly loved one. Just call us on 0808 189 1671, reach out by live chat or request a call back.

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