Giving and managing medication

If you need to manage medication for girls on your trips, here's what you need to consider.

Sometimes, girls in your unit will need to take medication during a day trip or residential event.

Here's everything you need to consider to safely store and handle any medication.

Before you go

  • A health information form must be completed by all young members (or their parents or carers) at a girls’ event. Over 18s attending an event for adults don't have to complete this form.
  • If young members take any regular medication, then the trip leader and first aider need to talk to the parents or carers about how this is usually given and handled. If the young member is over 16, you can talk to them directly about their medication needs. Units in British Girlguiding Overseas should follow whichever regulations are stricter, those of their home country or Girlguiding.
  • A list of non-prescription medication and remedies is included on the health information form. For members under 16, you need permission from their parent or carer before you can give these.
  • You must talk about medication with the member or their parents or carers before the trip, so you can agree how medication will be handled and administered.
  • It's important to talk about all the medication that a member needs, including more sensitive medications such as antidepressants and contraceptives. These can be a risk to others if they're taken by mistake. 
  • All medical conditions and medications must be treated confidentially.
  • When you talk with parents or carers and young members over 16 you need to find out who, at home, normally looks after the medication? If it's handled by an adult, then this needs to stay the same on the trip.
  • Find out if the medication is something that needs to be taken quickly, in an emergency - like an inhaler for severe asthma. Does the young member need to keep this on them?
  • Does their medication need to be stored in a certain way? For example, some medications need to be kept cool, like insulin for diabetics.
  • Find out if the parents or carers would like a written record of the medication to be kept during the trip and given to them at the end.
  • 16–18-year-olds can hold on to their own, non-emergency medication. This must be clearly labelled, and the first aider needs to know about it.
  • If the young member already has an adjustment plan, the first aider should refer to this when planning how medication and treatment is handled on the trip.
  • If you agree that a member over 16-years-old can handle and administer their own medication on the trip, they must understand the risks involved in sharing it with others and agree that they will not share. They should know how to keep the medication safely where other people can't get to it.
  • If going abroad, there are extra things to consider - will the time zone and different stages of the journey impact the medication routine and timings? Does the airline allow medication in hand luggage? Have you got enough doses to last the trip? We recommend bringing extra, just in case.
  • The first aider should keep in their kit  an extra set of any emergency medication that young members are carrying. For example, an inhaler, emergency hypoglycaemia treatment, adrenaline auto-injector for allergies.
  • All members at known risk of anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction should carry 2 adrenaline auto-injectors.
  • Expectations around medication and first aid treatment should be covered in with parents before the trip, for instance at a meeting for a residential trip or by letter for a day trip.
  • If young members are running their own camp, they should be made aware of best practice around medication as part of their training.
  • If you've identified some inclusion or access needs and want to know more about supporting the young member or about potential grants, then get in touch with [email protected].

On the trip

  • All prescription medication should be stored in a safe place. It must be clearly labelled with the name of who needs it and instructions for how often it should be taken. Best practice is to have a locked box with two keyholders or a combination padlock. Exceptions to this are medications that are needed instantly in an emergency, such as inhalers or adrenaline auto-injectors. These can be carried by the first aider as part of a grab bag and/or by the girl if she is able to self-administer.
  • All medication should be stored in a dry, clean, hygienic place, and not subject to extremes of temperature.
  • Medicine should be in-date, labelled, in original container and include instructions for administration, dosage and storage. This applies to emergency medication,  prescription medication and treatments that form part of the first aid kit.
  • Adults’ and children’s medications should be clearly labelled.
  • Medication needs must be kept confidential.
  • Keep a record of every time regular medication is given. This should include what was given, how much, what time it was given and who was responsible. If a young member is managing their own medication, the first aider should be informed. Explain that a first aider needs to know what medications have been taken, in case of an emergency. You can use our medication record sheet, or keep records in your own way. Download the medication record sheet (Word).
  • If non-prescribed medication, for example, pain relief or antihistamines, is given then check the health form to make sure you have permission and the young member is not allergic. Keep a record of what you give, when and why.
  • If there's a serious problem and first aid is not enough to treat it, contact the parents, carer or other emergency contact as given on the health form straight away. Or call them after you've contacted the emergency services. 
  • If a group of young members are running their own camp, they need to keep a record of any medication, prescription and non-prescription, taken by members. If you find out that young members have taken non-prescription medicine without telling the first aider, you'll need to talk to them about what they've taken. And remove the medication from them.
  • If a young member won't take their medication, you shouldn't force them. Follow the steps agreed in their individual healthcare plan. And contact their parents or carers to talk about other options.
  • Adults can hold and administer their own medication. The first aider should be told in case of emergency. If an adult prefers to give their medication to the first aider to store, it must be clearly labelled with name and dosage.

When you get back

  • Return any unused medication to parents and carers.
  • Keep any medication records for 1 month after the trip.
  • Tell parents and carers about:
    • How regular medication was managed.
    • Any occasions where pain medication was given.
    • Any first aid that was needed
    • Any injuries above the neck.