What is a dosette box and how do I use one?

If you or someone you know takes medication on a regular basis, you may be looking to buy  a dosette box or wondering how to use one. According to recent statistics, 88% of people aged 65 and above in the UK are on at least one regular prescription.1 For many of these people, it can be challenging to remember what medication to take and when. Dosette boxes are designed to help.

In this guide, we explore everything you need to know about dosette boxes. You’ll learn what a dosette box is, the advantages of using one, and how can it help manage taking medications more effectively.

Medication taken from a dosette box

How can we help?

If you or someone you know takes a lot of medication each week and needs extra support, we can help. All our Care Workers are trained in medication management and understand the importance of an organised routine .

We’re also proud to have partnered with Birdie Care. This innovative care technology enables us to digitally log and monitor the support we provide, including medication reminders. The Birdie Family App, with the client’s consent, allows full visibility of care and added reassurance.

What is a dosette box?

A dosette box, also known as a pill or medication organiser, is a container that’s used to store and dispense medications. It’s designed to help individuals who take multiple medications at various times throughout the day to keep track of their doses and ensure they’re taking the correct medications at the right times.

A dosette box is a plastic, usually transparent, container with  different compartments that can be filled with all the medication needed for any given day and week. These compartments are labelled with a day and, sometimes, a time of day (e.g. Monday morning or Saturday evening).

The user can fill each compartment with the appropriate medications for the correct day and, if applicable, time, allowing them to keep track of which medications they need to take and when. Some dosette boxes even have alarms that can remind the user when it’s time to take their medication.

What are the advantages of dosette boxes?

There are lots of advantages for someone who takes medication regularly to make using a dosette box part of their medication routine:

Improved medication management

One of the main benefits of using a dosette box is that they can help you manage all your medications and various prescriptions. According to a study from 2011, approximately 50% of people don’t take their medications as prescribed.2 Taking medication at the correct time is vital for wellbeing and forgetting to take a dose can have unintended side effects, such as nausea or a relapse in symptoms.

By preparing medications and providing a reminder to take them, a dosette box can help ensure you correctly take medication as intended by your healthcare professional. This can be especially important if you have a hard time keeping track of your doses or are experiencing memory loss.

Dosette boxes also allow you to see when you need to order a repeat prescription more easily which, again, improves medication management.

Better organisation

Another benefit of dosette boxes is that they can help you stay organised by providing a central location for all your medication. According to NHS statistics, 72% of people aged 65 and older are on at least three different prescriptions.3 For these people, a dosette box can be especially helpful to stay organised with more complex medication needs.

Increased medication visibility

A dosette box can also be excellent way of helping a person’s support network keep track of what medication has to be taken and when. Whether it be family members, friends and neighbours or professional carers, it can be hard for others to keep track of their elderly loved one’s medication schedule.

Having a dosette box overcomes this challenge with improved visibility of what medication has been taken.

Easy to use

Dosette boxes are very easy to use, especially when each compartment is clearly labelled. All you need to do is open the right compartment at the correct time and take the required medication.

If you have arthritis or a mobility impairment, opening medication can be tricky. Dosette box compartments have practical doors on them that are very easy to open and close.

Using a dosette box is advantageous, but relies on you or someone you know putting medication in the right compartment at the start of the week. For this reason, it’s vital to check medication is filled out correctly and consistently.  

There’s a range of other dosette box benefits which are worth considering:

  • Simplicity – dosette boxes are simple, convenient and portable
  • Reduced confusion – perfect for people with busy schedules or memory problems
  • Reusable – you only need to invest in one dosette box and can keep reusing it indefinitely
  • Cost effective – dosette boxes are a fairly inexpensive way of managing medication
  • Easy to access – dosette boxes keep all your medication in one place

If you or someone you know needs extra support with managing weekly prescriptions, contact us today to see how we can help.

How to use a dosette box?

Using a dosette box is relatively simple and works most effectively when it becomes a normal part of your daily routine. This can be done in the following simple steps:

  • Fill the compartments – begin by filling each compartment with the appropriate medications or supplements for that time of day. It’s important to carefully follow the instructions provided to you by your healthcare professional. You should only take the medication or supplements that have been prescribed for you
  • Label the compartments – if your dosette box doesn’t already have labels, consider labelling it with the day and time. This can help you keep track of which medications you need to take and when
  • Set alarms (if applicable) – set the alarms to go off at the times when you need to take your medication
  • Take your medication/s – when it’s time to take your medication, simply open the appropriate compartment and take the medication. It’s important to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare professional including any instructions on how to take the medication (such as with or without food). If there’s space, you could write these instructions on the right compartments
  • Refill the dosette box – when all the compartments are empty, it’s time to refill the dosette box. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before refilling to ensure that you’re taking the correct medications and doses. You may want to set yourself a reminder or refill the dosette box at the same time each week to avoid coming to use the box and finding it’s empty
  • Share information – after all the compartments for each week are empty, it’s important to tell other people. This can be your carer or loved one. This is important because they’ll want to know if you’re up to date with all your medication. They can also help order any repeat prescriptions you may have

If you are unable to fill your dosette box yourself, we recommend getting a loved one to make the box up for you. One of your professional Care Workers can monitor to ensure it’s done and ready for use. For loved ones, a dosette box can provide added reassurance that your Carer knows what medication should be taken and when. For added security, a person’s care plan will mention the dosette box.

At Alina Homecare, our care monitoring app. from Birdie provides digital medication reminders. This can be a great complement to your dosette box to ensure the right medication is taken at the right time and with the right dosage. Ask your local Alina Homecare Team about how Birdie works to learn more.

How to get a dosette box

In the past, dosette boxes were supplied free of charge by the government for anyone who requested one. However, this service has since been stopped and you must source your own dosette box.

There are still some ways of qualifying for a free dosette box. To do this, your pharmacy must conduct an assessment. To find out more about this process, follow this link.

Buying a dosette box

If you don’t qualify for a free dosette box, you may need to buy one. Dosette boxes are available from most pharmacies, or you can buy them online.

Which dosette box should I buy?

If you need to buy a dosette box, there are a few things you should look for:

  • Capacity – make sure the dosette box has enough compartments to hold all your medication for the week. If possible, it may be better to get a two-week dosette box. These only need refilling fortnightly as opposed to weekly
  • Ease of use – look for one that’s easy to open and close but is also secure
  • Labelling – try to find one that has compartments clearly labelled with the day and time
  • Durability – you should choose a dosette box that’s made of sturdy materials and won’t break
  • Extra features – some dosette boxes come with additional features such as alarms to remind you to take the medication. These features can be great for people who are busy or who experience memory loss
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