Design guidelines to improve pharmacy staff and patient communication
The general environment within the pharmacy can have a huge influence on your patient’s experience and how well your staff respond to working with the pressure of a busy pharmacy. In addition to general daily maintenance and cleanliness issues there are several additional points to be considered in order to improve the environment and safety for both patients and staff:
Signage – If patients know where to hand-in or collect prescriptions, or ask for advice, then there will be shorter queues, less risk of confusion, and a clearer medicine counter area, resulting in better communication. Clear graphics and colour contrast is particularly important to improve navigation for dementia patients and those with impaired vision.
Noise pollution – background noise such as till noise, music etc should be kept to a minimum by using design methods to protect staff and patients from potential distractions. Give some thought to where your telephone is located. This should be sited somewhere to allow confidential conversations not to be overheard, while providing minimum disruption to the dispensing and counter operations.
Security – There is a fine balance between making staff and patients feel secure, whilst retaining good communication. This balance will depend on the type of pharmacy concerned. If the pharmacy has a high number of substance mis-users, higher counters may be a consideration, although using security measures such as screens or hatches can seriously hinder communication. Panic buttons and CCTV may make your staff feel more at ease in this situation and therefore more able to communicate with patients more effectively.
Seating – All pharmacies should provide seating for elderly or disabled patients. This area should be sited so that confidential conversations at the prescription counter cannot be easily overheard, whilst being close enough for prescription collection. Any seating should be located away from the direct line-of-vision between your counter staff and the main doors, to enable clear eye-contact to be made with all patients upon entering the pharmacy.