Find a registrant or pharmacy

Find a registrant Find a pharmacy

Search the website

Help me with...

Treating people with respect and dignity

March 19, 2024
Pharmacy professional helping patient with ACP logo and text saying
Equity, diversity, and inclusion are key elements in the draft Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.

In our previous Learning the standards feature in The Link, we discussed the concept of person-centred care and how it is at the core of the draft Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians (SPPPT).

A key element in successfully providing person-centred care is to consider the concepts of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). These concepts are prominent in the person-centred care domain of the draft SPPPT.

“Regulated members see each patient as a person, not just the therapy or medication the person requires,” said Monty Stanowich, ACP’s Policy Lead and Compliance Officer. “When we think of someone as a person and not just a patient, it allows us to consider their beliefs, values, and preferences. Who they are as a whole impacts their health and health decisions, and where they want to go with these. The sections we have in the draft standards about equity, diversity, and inclusion speak to that.”

The draft SPPPT addresses cultural sensitivity and considerations when caring for Indigenous patients. The draft standards call on regulated members to

  • create culturally safe environments for patients,
  • recognize and value the role that a patient’s culture plays in their health needs,
  • consider how a patient’s culture will impact how care needs to be delivered or may be perceived by the patient, and
  • take appropriate action when they observe others acting in a discriminatory manner.

“For all patients to be treated with dignity and respect, the regulated member has to take into account the patient’s background, history, and culture,” said Monty. “This will influence how regulated members provide care and how people receive care. I think a lot of bias can be inadvertent or unconscious—it’s not necessarily intentional—but without the understanding or respect for the other person’s culture or beliefs, it’s easier to unintentionally not provide the individualized care they need.”

For the last two continuing education cycles, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have completed learning on EDI as part of the Continuing Competence Program (CCP), which included educational modules and a podcast series.

“The required learning provided regulated members with a foundation,” said Pamela Timanson, ACP’s Competence Director. “We’ve gone through the terminology, the language, and the understandings of EDI and presented opportunities to continue the learning journey. The podcast series encourages regulated members to tie in experiences and use their judgement to come up with ways to incorporate EDI into their practice.”

“This can be achieved by being more aware and making small changes in the way we do things,” said Pamela. “What changes can we make within the pharmacy or workplace to be more inclusive or more aware of what people are going through, or have gone through, in their lives? How can we make the person’s experience different? How can we make the space more welcoming? It may be around the language we’re using, the appearance of the pharmacy, or the physical environment of the workplace. There are small pieces we can change to make it inclusive for everyone.”

Pamela says that EDI is about how we take care of each other and how we treat each other. The goal is for all regulated members to treat everyone with empathy and the way they expect and need to be treated.

“We all want to be seen, validated, accepted, and loved for who we are,” said Pamela. “We have heard from some regulated members that ACP is trying to change their beliefs. That’s not it at all. We’re not asking anyone to change their beliefs. But we do expect that pharmacy teams treat people with respect and dignity, value their experiences, and be willing to listen to what they’re going through. This understanding and approach will lead to better care. If we only focus on a prescription, we lose out on so much. If we focus on the whole person, we can better support their health journey.”

Later this year, Council will review an updated version of the draft SPPPT for the purpose of approval.

During the next few months, watch The Link for more concepts that are changing in the draft standards, and how these changes will affect your practice and, ultimately, the health and well-being of Albertans.