The Accessible Information Standard (AIS) relates to the provision of information to people with a disability in a format that they are able to access and understand. All organisations that provide publicly-funded NHS and adult social care (both from private or public sectors) in England must implement the Standard by 31 July 2016. The Standard requires pharmacy contractors to do five things:
Ask patients, or their carers or parents, if they have any information and/or communication needs and find out how those needs can be met. Identification of needs can be conducted either in person, via telephone or using a form for patients to sign.
Pharmacy contractors should consider using materials to encourage patients to be more proactive about asking for accessible information and/or communication support. Resources for the public are available from the NHS England website. Information in patient information leaflets and the pharmacy’s website can also be amended to reflect AIS requirements.
Record any identified needs clearly in either an electronic or paper based format in a standardised way; for example, the patient medication record (PMR).
The information that is recorded must state the patient’s information and/or communication needs and not just their impairment. For example, a record must state that a patient uses a hearing aid or can lip read and not just state that they are deaf.
Highlight patient records (either electronically or using a paper based system) so it is clear at the point of accessing the patient’s record that they have communication and/or information needs and how those needs can be met.
This can be done in the same way that other risk information such as known allergies is made visible to the pharmacy team. For this reason, it may be appropriate to use the PMR as their needs will automatically be visible on the record when opened.
When using the PMR, the key information section can be used – this information does not have to be highlighted on each page of the PMR. If using paper records, the front page of the notes should be used to record this information.
Existing pharmacy procedures for gaining patients’ consent to treatment and to sharing information should be followed. Unless it is the pharmacy’s usual practice to do so, there is no requirement to obtain consent specifically for sharing data on patients’ information and/or communication needs with other healthcare professionals or to renew consent.
Take measures to ensure that patients, or their carers or parents, are provided with accessible information that they are able to understand.
Provide further appropriate communication support if required. This does not mean they must receive information in their requested format or that pharmacies must invest in additional technologies – as long as they have information that they can access and understand and that the pharmacy is prepared to offer other solutions.
For example, pharmacy contractors could consider making a voice recording of a patient’s medication administration instructions for a blind patient if the pharmacy does not have a brailler. Reasonable requests for materials in alternative formats must be complied with.
The full resource, which covers topics including recording requirements and training can be downloaded from npa.co.uk.