Implementing a chaperone policy

NPA Essential

Implementing a chaperone policy

With an increase in the range of services offered by pharmacies, a chaperone policy can help protect both patient and pharmacist. The following is an extract from the NPA’s chaperone policy guidance document

Any situation where a pharmacist is alone with a patient in a consultation room could potentially result in an accusation of failing to maintain clear boundaries. Examples of situations where a chaperone policy would be advisable, include:

  • Physical examinations or situations which require a patient to remove items of clothing, such as administering vaccinations or measuring and fitting appliances such as trusses 
  • Discussions which could make a patient feel uncomfortable, eg, an embarrassing condition, or where the pharmacist asks the patient about matters unrelated to their health or for details of their sexual orientation when not relevant

In part 5.1 of the GPhC “Guidance on maintaining clear sexual boundaries”, a chaperone is defined as “a person (usually the same sex as the patient) who is present as a safeguard for the patient and the healthcare professional. They are also a witness to the patient’s continuing consent for the procedure. Their role may vary depending on the needs of the patient, the pharmacy professional and the examination or procedure being carried out.”

Chaperone

The role of a chaperone varies depending on patient needs and the nature of the consultation or procedure and could include:

  • Acting as a witness for a patient’s continuing consent to a consultation or procedure
  • Assisting a patient by acting as an interpreter
  • Identifying any unacceptable behaviour by the pharmacy professional
  • Helping a patient with emotional stress
  • Providing protection to the pharmacy professional in an aggressive situation 
  • Providing protection to the pharmacy professional against allegations of improper conduct
  • Providing reassurance to patients.

Offering a chaperone

Pharmacists should consider whether patients being seen privately in a consultation area should be offered a chaperone.

As stated in part 5.2 of the GPhC “Guidance on maintaining clear sexual boundaries”, a patient may not always ask for a chaperone, but pharmacists should not assume that they do not require one. Where the patient is a child, the chaperone would usually be a parent, carer or another trusted individual chosen by the child.

The pharmacist may choose to have a chaperone present during a consultation, examination or procedure – this intention should be made clear to the patient beforehand. If the patient prefers not to have a chaperone present and the pharmacist is not happy to continue without one, then every effort should be made to arrange for the patient to see another health professional as quickly as possible.

The pharmacist should try to rearrange another appointment for the patient within a reasonable time period or refer to another healthcare professional if a patient requires a chaperone where one may not be available.

The following NPA resources are available to support you in implementing a chaperone policy in your pharmacy:

  • Templates
  • Patient notice
  • FAQs.

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