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 NPAâ€™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 orÂ situations which require a patient to remove items of clothing, such as administering vaccinations or measuring and fitting appliances such as trussesÂ
- 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 â€œGuidance on maintaining clear sexual boundariesâ€, a chaperone is defined as â€œa 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 patientâ€™s continuing consentÂ 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.â€
The role of a chaperoneÂ varies depending on patient needs and the nature of the consultation or procedure and could include:
- Acting as a witness for aÂ patientâ€™s continuing consentÂ to a consultation or procedure
- Assisting a patient by actingÂ as an interpreter
- Identifying any unacceptableÂ behaviour by the pharmacyÂ professional
- Helping a patient withÂ emotional stress
- Providing protection to theÂ pharmacy professional in an aggressive situationÂ
- 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 â€œGuidance on maintaining clear sexualÂ boundariesâ€, a patient may not always ask for a chaperone, but pharmacists should not assume that they do not require one.Â Where the patient is a child, the chaperone would usually be a parent, carer or another trusted individual chosen by the child.
The pharmacist mayÂ choose to have a chaperone present during a consultation, examination or procedure â€“ 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 happyÂ 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 shouldÂ 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:
- Patient notice
Work through this new-style module to increase your confidence in reassuring parents of children with allergies, and know what advice and products to recommend