Most premises, including those that house community pharmacies, are set up in compliance with accessibility regulations and standards that have been approved by the authorities. Nevertheless, in addition to adherence to such regulations, serving patients with disabilities may require community pharmacies to go the extra mile with regards to building design, staff members’ ability to communicate to patients and providing items that are disability-friendly.

Having a community pharmacy that is disability-friendly is more than simply providing ramps and extended doors – although these are definitely needed. There are many other features that a community pharmacy must have to ensure that the pharmacy caters to the diverse needs of the individuals who come to the premise.

The following are some of the features that can make the pharmacy more accommodating to patients with disabilities:

1. Access and layout

The built-up environment of the premise should be barrier-free and adapted to fulfill the needs of all patients. Having easy access to the entrance and exit is one of the most basic physical features to accommodate individuals with disabilities, particularly those who use wheelchairs.

A well-designed layout is also important; for instance, there should be a minimum width between aisles. Additionally, there should be no obstructions like unnecessary stands and displays which may cause trips and injuries. There must also be reasonable placement of objects and clear shelf labelling, so that it will be easier for patients to take important items.

2. Personnel who can communicate effectively with patients

Having employees or an interpreter who is able to communicate with people who have disabilities can accommodate the needs of this particular group of patients, such as for hearing impaired individuals.

To support the communication needs of patients, pharmacists can use visual aids during consultation. Employees should also ensure that the given information and explanation are well-received and understood correctly by disabled individuals.

3. Ensure that items and objects in the community pharmacy are disability-friendly

Patients with impaired hand function are likely to benefit from disability-friendly items and objects such as containers and packages that do not require high and / or complex motor movement. Staff working in community pharmacies can choose to have easy-to-use aids and devices at hand that can be used to assist patients in taking their medications.

In addition to having good facilities, community pharmacies can make the effort to go beyond what is necessary to accommodate them. For instance, the pharmacy can seek feedback from the disabled community about their experience and satisfaction with the current services that they provide.

They can also consider and reflect on whether there are other solutions that can be implemented in the pharmacy or through additional services that can support their needs more effectively. Once these concerns have been addressed, community pharmacies can make appropriate, reasonable adjustments. A friendly approach and the wisdom to understand patients’ needs can go a long way in determining the success of a community pharmacy in the quality of care for its patients. MIMS

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