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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : April 2005
treating kids scription then, rather than waiting to have it filled, they leave the pharmacy because the toddler is likely to run around creat- ing dramas, pulling things off shelves and so on,’ said Michelle Barraclough, direc- tor of Child-Friendly Solutions, which supplies wall-mounted play panels to retailers. ‘They’ll return in 10 or 15 min- utes to pick up the medicine, then go. ‘However, if the toddler is occupied with a safe, hygienic place to play, they’re not going to be causing problems. So it’s much more likely that mum or dad will stay to browse the pharmacy shelves while they wait, and will perhaps buy more products.’ Being safe and friendly for the little ones Treating the health of children can pose all sorts of challenges for community pharmacies. But by creating the right environment, adhering to professional protocols and ensuring staff are appropriately trained, child healthcare in community pharmacy can be fun and rewarding.MEGAN PEARD reports M OST visitors to pharmacy have a good idea of what they want. Customers from one large group, how- ever, don’t want to discuss their illness with you. They’re not interested in prod- uct unless it’s bright and eye-catching. And some can’t even speak to you at all. Treating children poses its own diffi- culties, not the least of which is the prob- lem that to effectively deal with their health needs, one must go through an intermediary—usually mum or dad. ‘If a parent is comfortable in the envi- ronment, it encourages them to continue using the same pharmacy,’ said Sandra Huggins, retail manager at Victoria’s Morgan and Rule Pharmacy, which won the 2005 Pharmacy of the Year Award. ‘Our pharmacy is child-friendly, and allows parents to sit and have a coffee while they wait for a script to be filled, or to visit our full-time Mothercare nurse, who’s available all the time.’ Part of the problem is that parents can be embarrassed or impatient with inquis- itive toddlers, and want to remove them from an environment they perceive as not suitable for children. ‘Mums or dads who go into a pharmacy with a toddler will often put in a pre- 262 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 APRIL 2005 She said that keeping youngsters occu- pied could also have professional benefits. Centrelink offices in Victoria had found the company’s panels useful, she said. ‘They’re installed in some of the more private rooms where people using the social security system can have a more in- depth conversation with a consultant. ‘Single mothers who are trying to con- trol one or more active toddlers find it harder to converse about what are really some quite serious matters. Keeping the child busy helps mum focus,’ Ms Barra- clough said. ‘And pharmacy is quite a similar envi- ronment, in many ways. An effective play area lets parents talk with the pharmacist about health issues, which is hard to do with little ones running around!’ Becoming child-friendly Specialist staff like nurses can help parents feel that their needs are being addressed, Ms Huggins said. ‘This gives the pharmacist more time for dispensing, which is what they’re trained to do, and counsel on medicines, rather than issues like breastfeeding,’ she said. Pharmacy assistants can also be extremely helpful in setting parents’ minds at ease, she told the AJP. ‘A lot of younger staff, and some men, are pretty apprehensive about helping out with children’s problems, because they don’t really think talking to kids is part of their job description,’ Ms Huggins said. ‘We’ve got some experienced mothers on the team—we have 65 staff—who have a lot of empathy, because we know