Counselling and advice on medicines and appliances in community pharmacy practice

Web publication of guidelines produced in hard copy in March 1996 for pharmacists working in NHSScotland.

Summary And Recommendations

1. Pharmacists have a professional responsibility to recognise and/or assess and meet the counselling and advice needs of patients in relation to their use of medicines/appliances ( Sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.4, Annex A2).

2. Patients should be made aware that counselling and advice on medicines/appliances is offered as a professional service by the pharmacy ( Section 2.1.4).

3. Pharmacists must respect the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of professional practice relating to a patient and the patient's family. In this regard they are bound by Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain ( Annex A2).

4. Pharmacists should liaise closely with general practitioners and other health care professionals ( Sections 1.4 and 1.5).

5. Pharmacists should ensure that they have the knowledge and skills required to provide counselling and advice to patients effectively and efficiently ( Section 2.1.4 and Annex A3).

6. Counselling should be carried out in an environment which is non-threatening and conducive to forming good relationships between the pharmacist and patients or carers ( Section 2.1.4).

7. All appropriate sources of information should be used to assess relevant patient and medication/appliance factors in order to recognise and prioritise the needs for counselling and advice. The use of patient medication records is to be encouraged ( Section 2.1.2).

8. For each identified need pharmacists should specify a desired output and method of assessing whether that output is achieved ( Section 2.1.3).

9. Aids to comprehension and/or compliance should be used where necessary to meet an individual patient's needs ( Section 2.1.4).

10. Pharmacists should ensure that patients have an appropriate level of understanding and are able to comply with instructions for the use of their medicines/appliances ( Section 2.1.5).

11. Where direct patient contact is not possible, the pharmacist may have to assess the need for counselling indirectly by discussion with a carer, relative or representative of the patient ( Section 2.1.1).

12. Documentation of counselling and advisory activities is to be encouraged for the purposes of continuity of care, self-audit or research. Audit and research may be used to review and develop standards of counselling and advice ( Section 2.1.5 and Annexes A4 and A5).

13. Summary Of The Recommended Steps In The Counselling Process


Be familiar with the recommended counselling points for the most commonly prescribed medicines and appliances

Consider patients' expectations, the counselling environment and the time available


  • Establish what the patient already knows about the medicine/appliance
  • Recognise characteristics of the medicine, appliance or patient which indicate particular needs


  • Use all available sources of information, including as necessary, the patient, carers, relatives or health care professionals and patient medication records to assess relevant patient and medication/appliance factors and prioritise needs


  • Decide for each identified need what it is you wish to achieve and how you will determine the output from the counselling process


  • Counsel, introducing as necessary aids to comprehension and/or compliance and explain their use
  • Reinforce important points and invite patient
    to ask further questions


  • Check knowledge and understanding by
    direct questioning
  • Where possible, assess actual compliance through follow-up


The counselling and advisory service which you offer may be evaluated, reviewed and developed through audit and/or practice research.


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