Topic 05: Types of Medications and the MAR

Introduction to Medication Types

In caregiving, particularly in medication assistance, comprehending the various types of medications is crucial. These are tailored for specific routes of administration and to address diverse health conditions. For support workers, a deep understanding of these ensures they can provide safe, effective, and empathetic care.

Overview of Common Medication Types

Let’s delve deeper into these medication types:

  • Film-coated Tablets:
    • Types: Immediate-release, extended-release, and sublingual.
    • Usage Tips: Be aware of special instructions like taking with food or water. Some tablets should not be crushed, split or chewed.
    • Common Examples: film-coated Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen and Metformin.
      Reference: (IPharmachine n.d.)
  • Enteric-coated tablets:
    • Types: Hard-shelled, and soft-gelled.
    • Special Considerations: Easier to swallow but should not be opened or crushed unless advised.
    • Typical Uses: Vitamins, certain antibiotics like Amoxicillin.
      Reference: (IPharmachine n.d.)
  • Topicals:
    • Varieties: Creams, ointments, lotions.
    • Application Tips: Use as directed, often applied to clean, dry skin. Some require protective gloves for application.
    • Frequent Uses: When skin needs to heal or a steroid needs to be provided through the skin.
      Reference: (GoodRx Health n.d.)
  • Injectables:
    • Types: Intravenous (IV), intramuscular (IM), subcutaneous, and intradermal (ID).
    • Handling Instructions: Requires training for proper administration techniques.
    • Key Medications: Insulin, certain vaccines, emergency medications like epinephrine.
      Reference: ( April 2021)

Checking Medication Steps

When medication is received from the pharmacy, it will need to be checked against the MAR and recorded on the Med Check in and Distribution Form by the supervisor. The supervisor will provide 1 week supply of medications for each client. This will need to be checked again by the staff members assigned to administer medications for that day, and sign off on the

Understanding Types of Medications: A Guide for Caregivers

Welcome to this comprehensive section designed to deepen your knowledge about various medication types and their appropriate administration. As a caregiver, recognizing the differences between medication types is crucial for providing safe and effective care. Let’s dive into the details.

Tablets: Your Go-To Oral Medication

Tablets are a common type of medication, usually taken orally. They come in different shapes and sizes, and understanding their unique characteristics is essential.

  • Film-Coated: Film-coated tablets have a thin layer that aids in swallowing. The film-coating acts a shield protecting the tablet from premature degrading that may occur from environmental factors (IPharmachine n.d.).
  • Enteric-Coated: Gel coated tablets that are designed to withstand the stomach’s acidic environment, releasing in the small intestine (IPharmachine n.d.).
  • Sublingual Tablets: Placed under the tongue, these tablets dissolve and absorb directly into the bloodstream, offering a faster onset of action.

Practical Tip: Swallowing Tablets

If you’re assisting someone who struggles with swallowing tablets, encourage them to sit upright, take a sip of water first, place the tablet on the tongue, and then drink more water. Swallowing with a ‘pop bottle’ or ‘lean forward’ method can also be effective for certain types of pills.

Enteric-Coated Tablets

Consist of medication enclosed in a gelatin shell. They are favored for their ease of swallowing and extended-release properties.

  • Hard vs. Soft Gel Tablets: Hard gel tablets are more common and contain powdered ingredients or granulated ingredients, while soft gels contain oil based ingredients (Gelita n.d.).
  • Storing Tablets: Keep tablets in a cool, dry place. Moisture and heat can alter their effectiveness.

Topical Medications: Direct Application for Targeted Relief

Topical medications are applied directly to the skin or specific areas of the body. They’re used for localized treatment.

  • Creams and Lotions: Ideal for moist or weepy skin conditions due to their water content.
  • Gels: Clear and quick-drying, they are perfect for hairy areas or when a cosmetic appearance is desired.
  • Patches: Provide a steady, controlled dose of medication through the skin over time.

Technique Matters: When applying topical medications, always wear gloves to prevent absorption through your skin. Apply a thin layer, covering the entire affected area, and avoid contact with eyes and mouth unless the medication is intended for these areas.

Injectable Medications: Fast-Acting and Efficient

Injectable medications deliver drugs directly into the body’s tissues. They’re used when an immediate effect is required or oral administration is not suitable.

  • Types of Injections ( April 2021):
    • Intradermal (ID): Just under the skin, often used for allergy tests.
    • Subcutaneous (SC): Into the innermost layer of the skin, like insulin injections. These injections work slower than IV or IM injections.
    • Intramuscular (IM): Deep into a muscle, ensuring rapid absorption through blood vessels.
    • Intravenous (IV): Medication is injected directly into a vein, providing immediate effects. Often, this is confused with someone receiving IV infusion or drip which involves gravity bags and/or medical equipment.

Safe Injection Practices:

It’s critical to follow proper injection techniques to ensure safety and efficacy. Use alcohol swabs to clean the injection site, and never reuse needles. Dispose of used needles and syringes safely in a sharps container.

What is the MAR

The MAR, or Medication Administration Record, is a legal document. It includes all medications and administration times for each client. Below is an example of a MAR, provided by manrex.

manrex ltd, PCI Controlled Dosage System (n.d.)

The MAR runs month to month. This means a new MAR is started on the 1st day of every month. The Pharmacy will give the residence a new MAR at the end of each month so you can begin a new one. When the MAR arrives, it will have to be checked for accuracy against the previous one. The check is completed by your supervisor or designate. It is important to ensure all meds are accurate for dosage, time and that there are no extra or forgotten medications.

Check One – Supervisor or designate receives the medication from the pharmacy and it is checked against the MAR.
Check Two – The medication is checked against the MAR by the staff who will be administering medications.
Check Three – When administering medications, staff members will check it against the MAR before administering it.


manrex ltd (n.d.), PCI Controlled Dosage System, retrieved from
IPharmachine (n.d.), The Difference Between Enteric-coded And Film-coated For Patients And Healthcare Professionals, retrieved from
Gelita (n.d.), Softgels (Soft Capsules) everything you need to know, retrieved from
Gelita (n.d.), Hard Capsules all you need to know, retrieved from
GoodRX Health (n.d.), Topical medications: Ointments vs. Creams. vs. Lotions, retrieved from (April 4, 2021), Injection Types and Sites, retrieved from

Real-World Scenario: Managing Medications

Consider Mr. Gray, who has a combination of oral and injectable medications. He is hesitant about his insulin injections and prefers oral medications. Here, your role is to educate Mr. Gray about the necessity of each medication form. Explain how insulin injections work more effectively for his condition than oral medication. Remember, patient understanding and cooperation are vital in medication management.


Understanding the types of medications is a fundamental aspect of caregiving. This knowledge ensures that you can administer medications safely and effectively, tailoring your approach to each patient’s unique needs. Always keep learning and stay informed about new medication types and techniques to enhance your caregiving skills.