New Pride in Pharmacy resources

Pharmacy teams have a crucial role in addressing the health inequalities faced by LGBTQ+* communities including barriers to accessing healthcare, experience of prejudice and discrimination, and poorer health outcomes.

January 2023

To support pharmacy teams, the LGBT Foundation has developedPride in Pharmacy, an interactive online resource.

Pride in Practice programme in healthcare - LGBT Foundation

The resource includes short modules which can be used for individual or team-based learning to develop knowledge and confidence around LGBTQ+ inclusivity in pharmacy.

While the Pride in Pharmacy resource focus on the legally protected characteristics of sexual orientation and gender reassignment (Equality Act 2010), many of the principles can be applied to other marginalised groups who experience health inequalities.

Luvjit Kandula, Director of Pharmacy Transformation at Greater Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee who helped to develop the Pride in Pharmacy resource said:

“We are proud to have collaborated with the LGBT Foundation to help Community Pharmacy teams to develop awareness of the challenges that LGBTQ+ communities face when accessing healthcare. The Pride in Pharmacy resource will help us to promote inclusive practice and adapt our services to meet the needs of individuals and this community.”

*We have used LGBTQ+ in this article as an umbrella term. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning. The + sign indicates that other identities are included and welcomed. The Pride in Pharmacy resource explore further why language matters and includes a useful glossary.

Exploring the Pride in Pharmacy resource and the Standards for pharmacy professionals

A key theme in our Delivering equality, improving diversity and fostering inclusion: Our strategy for change 2021–26 is using our standards to proactively help tackle discrimination and to make sure everyone can access person-centred care, fostering equality of health outcomes.

During the consultation on our strategy, we held focus groups with patients and members of the public where we heard first-hand about the barriers to person-centred care they have experienced.

Focus group participants shared ideas and suggestions about how the GPhC and the pharmacy sector could do more to support person-centred care that recognises the diverse needs and cultural differences of the communities they serve. Key points included:

  • The importance of lived experiences and diverse patient stories, incorporating as many viewpoints as possible, especially those that may typically face unseen barriers
  • The need for professionals and regulators to understand and respond to the needs of the people and the communities they serve
  • The importance of intersectionality – pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should be thinking about how different aspects of someone’s identity come together to influence the way they should be treated
  • The importance of having a holistic approach – seeing the ‘whole’ person

During the consultation on our strategy we also heard about the importance of pharmacy professionals learning about LGBTQ+ health issues and gender inclusivity during their education and training. In our new Standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists we strengthened EDI requirements to ensure that pharmacy students understand principles of equality, diversity and fairness, and meet all relevant legal requirements.

At the heart of our Standards for pharmacy professionals is the principle that every person must be treated as an individual, a core principle echoed in the Pride in Pharmacy resource. We have reflected below how the learning in the resource can be related to our standards. You might want to reflect on your learning from the Pride in Pharmacy resource as part of your revalidation.

Providing person-centred care

Person-centred care is delivered when pharmacy professionals understand what is important to meet individual needs, making the care of the person their first priority. Person-centred care is demonstrated when pharmacy teams recognise and value diversity, respect and safeguard the person’s dignity, and consider the impact their decisions and practice may have on patients.

The Pride in Pharmacy resource supports pharmacy professionals in learning more about LGBTQ+ identities, being aware of the health inequalities faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and becoming more confident about acronyms and terminology, and what LGBTQ+ inclusive and accessible pharmacy care looks like through real-life scenarios.

Case study: Avoiding assumptions

The first step in avoiding assumptions is to be aware of those you might be making without even realising it. Read and discuss the following case study:

Two masculine presenting people enter the pharmacy with a baby, looking to buy cough medicines for the child who looks unwell. A member of the pharmacy team wants to ask some questions about the baby to make sure the medicine is suitable. To ensure they’re addressing the right person, the member of staff asks, “Which one of you is Dad?”

Discussion: what assumptions has the pharmacy staff member made?

Communicating effectively

Effective communication is essential to the delivery of person-centred care. Communication is more than giving a person information, asking questions and listening. Body language, tone of voice and the words pharmacy professionals use all contribute to effective communication and inclusive care.

Through a number of case studies, the Pride in Pharmacy resources illustrate the importance of not making assumptions, phrasing questions appropriately, addressing patients with their preferred pronouns, and using open language such as non-gendered alternatives (such as 'partner', rather than husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend).

For example, the case studies included in the resources prompt considerations on the assumption that all children have parents of the opposite sex and gender expression.

The Pride in Pharmacy resource also highlights that many LGBTQ+ people are reluctant to share their sexual orientation or that they are transitioning or have transitioned, for fear of bias and discrimination. This can negatively impact the healthcare they receive. During the public consultation on our strategy, we also heard from stakeholders that assumptions and attitudes towards sexuality and gender can still hinder patient care. Creating a visibly inclusive space, whether in physical or online pharmacies, can help LGBTQ+ people to feel safe and included. Displaying relevant posters, using rainbow lanyards and wearing pronoun badges are all ways to create an inclusive space.

Working in partnership with others

A person’s health, safety and wellbeing are dependent on pharmacy professionals working in partnership with others, where everyone is contributing towards providing the person with the care they need.

The LGBT Foundation’s report Hidden Figures: Hidden Figures: LGBT Health Inequalities in the UK shows that some LGBT people, particularly trans people, are routinely denied access to preventative health screenings. The Pride in Pharmacy resource explores how pharmacy teams can take an inclusive approach to promoting health campaigns and screenings.

Behave in a professional manner, and respect and maintain the person’s confidentiality and privacy

Professionalism is essential to maintaining public trust and confidence in pharmacy. Patients receive safe and effective care when pharmacy professionals are polite and considerate, show empathy and compassion and treat people with respect and safeguard their dignity. Trust in pharmacy is upheld when pharmacy teams understand the importance of managing information responsibly and securely, and apply this to their practice to maintain patients’ privacy and confidentiality.

The Pride in Pharmacy resource illustrates how to best support non-binary and trans patients collecting prescriptions, and includes practical suggestions on how to ask questions in inclusive ways.

Find out more

Access the Pride in Pharmacy interactive online resource. As well as short learning modules the resource also signposts to organisations who can provide further information and support.

In our previous Pride in Pharmacy Regulate article, we worked with the LGBT Foundation to explore how pharmacy professionals can demonstrate person-centred professionalism in a variety of situations.

Read Focus on equality, diversity and inclusion: examples from our Knowledge hub, where we look at examples of notable practice in which pharmacies have met our standards and had a special regard to their equality duties as pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners.

Find out more about commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in Delivering equality, improving diversity and fostering inclusion: Our strategy for change 2021–26.

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