Meet the MAR chart: how Live-in carers record medication

Live-in carers use a number of tools and resources to ensure older people receive the very best care, and one that is beneficial to understand is the MAR Chart. Carers often work in tandem with the client’s registered community nurse in order to ensure there is continuity in their medication management, and the MAR Chart is a vital part of the handover process. 

Here, we are sharing everything you need to know about the MAR Chart, including how it works, why it is so important, and what kinds of medication carers can administer safely. 

At Home Instead, our aim is to help people age positively and in place by bringing expert care to their home. For nearly 20 years, we have been providing the highest standard of care, and creating industry-leading training programmes for our Care Professionals that are accredited by nursing and medical professionals. Today, we are the world’s largest global home care network, supporting over 100,000 older adults personalised, tailored care at home. So whatever questions you have about home care, we can help.

What is the MAR Chart?

The MAR Chart stands for Medication Administration Record, and it exists to keep track of every medication that needs to be given to the client, and every medication that has already been given. It is an active document that carers use to keep track of all medication, including what the medicine is, and exactly what time it was last administered. This can include over-the-counter medicines and anything prescribed by the GP. 

The MAR Chart is valid for one month, and will then be replaced by a new sheet. During that time, it will record information such as:

  • The type of medication 
  • The dosage of medication 
  • The exact time it was given to the patient 
  • If the patient refused to take the medication 
  • Any important instructions about the medication, for example, if it should be taken with food  
mar chart meaning

Why is a MAR chart needed?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) states that care providers must keep secure, accurate and up-to-date records about all medicines administered, as required under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 – the MAR Chart is a key element of this. 

The importance of keeping clear records that leave no room for misunderstanding, and that never miss any information about medications, cannot be overstated. For older adults who take multiple medications each day, an inaccurate MAR Chart (or one that has not been filled out quickly enough after administering medication) could result in missed doses, dangerous medication interactions, or overdoses. 

The MAR Chart is a vital tool that carers use to ensure their client is safe and well, but it is also important for protecting the care worker by recording all of their medication interactions with the client.

How does the MAR chart work? 

MAR Charts can be printed on paper (some pharmacies will provide this if you need it) but many agencies use their own digital system to record this information. 

The MAR Chart will usually include instructions for the medications needed. This is because in some cases multiple carers will be entering the home at different times, and a new carer, or one with many clients to see each day, may not be familiar with what needs to happen. By reading the MAR Chart, they should be able to learn:

  • The medications that have been prescribed and anything else that should be given 
  • What time they should be administered (this information may need to be decided based on information the previous carer added to the MAR Chart, which shows the importance of keeping an accurate record of each dose) 
  • What dose to administer 
  • Any special information that should also be adhered to for best results or safety reasons

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) makes it clear that MAR Charts MUST be filled out immediately by the carer after medication has been administered, in order to make sure the information is as accurate and timely as possible.

mar chart meaning

Can a live-in carer administer medication?

If a medication is prescribed by a doctor and included in a client’s Care Plan, it must be administered at the appropriate time. In some cases the client can do this themselves, or family members can do this for them. 

Some medications must be administered by a registered nurse, but many can be administered by carers as long as they have the appropriate training. The MAR Chart helps to advise carers on what they should administer, how much, and when. A dosette box will sometimes be used to manage a client’s medication schedule, and we’ve written a guide to dosette boxes here.

What medications can live-in carers administer safely?

Depending on the type of medication and the severity of a client’s condition, medications can be administered by either the client themselves, their family members, the registered nurse in charge of their medical care, or a carer – as long as the carer has the appropriate training to administer the necessary care, and that they are doing so according to the instructions of the registered nurse or doctor overseeing the client’s medical care. 

Often healthcare professionals will delegate certain tasks to carers in order to streamline the care process, as this means the carer can handle things like medication management and medical care in the same visit when they are helping with other everyday tasks, such as cooking for the client or running errands. According to the Care Quality Commission, care workers should only be providing medication support or administering medications if this is clearly stated in the client’s Care Plan. 

Having the authorisation to administer medications can be especially helpful if a client has a live-in carer, as it means they can provide most (or all) of the services the client requires, and there is little need to involve other people in the care process each week. 

When it comes to medication support, live-in carers can help by prompting or reminding the client to take their own medications, helping to remove difficult packaging from medications if needed, or administering medications if they are trained to do so. 

At Home Instead, we can provide highly trained Care Professionals who are experienced in administering medication, as well as being trained in a variety of common clinical skills, including catheter management, stoma care, wound care, vital signs monitoring, diabetes monitoring, feeding support and more. Many of our Care Professionals are trained extensively to support clients living with conditions like epilepsy, insulin-dependent diabetes, spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury and Motor Neurone Disease, among other conditions. 

Our Care Professionals are the best of the best, and can deliver the services you need. Plus, we take great care in matching clients with the best carer for their personality, so you can feel confident that your live-in carer has the skills, experience and understanding needed to support you in your medication and healthcare management.

We’re an award-winning home care provider and part of a worldwide organisation devoted to providing the highest quality relationship-led care for older people in their own homes. Arranging care for yourself or your loved one shouldn’t be stressful, so whatever questions you would like answered, feel free to reach out to the Home Instead team to discuss your needs.