The Architecture of Pharmacies: Community pharmacy patients’ and staff’s experiences and perceptions of pharmacy spaces to inform the development of a pharmacy design guide

Ranjita Dhital, University of Reading

What are we trying to find out? 

We know many people collect their prescriptions, buy medicines and receive advice about their health from the community pharmacy. Community pharmacies are usually found close to where people live, work and shop; which makes them easy to get to. However, we do not know how people feel about the community pharmacy spaces when they visit, such as the pharmacy counter, the shop floor or the pharmacy consultation room. We do not know if these spaces make people feel uncomfortable or even put them off talking with the pharmacist and other pharmacy staff about their health. We also do not know how pharmacy staff feel about their working environment – in the dispensary, medicines counter and on the shop floor. Currently there is no clear guidance to suggest how best to design good pharmacy spaces. However, we know that by improving hospitals spaces – such as having better lighting, reducing noise and having private rooms – patients’ wellbeing and recovery rates are aided 

Many people rely on the community pharmacy for their treatment and health advice. Unfortunately, in the UK, almost half the population who receive treatment do not take their medications as prescribed; which has negative effects on their health. Therefore, finding out how to improve pharmacy spaces could help people understand more about their treatment and stay healthy for longer. In this study we want to find out how pharmacy patients and staff would like the pharmacy to look and feel, to make them more engaging. 

How I plan to do this? 

This project includes the following three studies: 

  1. I will first visit two pharmacies to see how pharmacy patients and staff use pharmacy spaces. For example, to see where different work activities and conversations about health take place.  
  2. I will then interview pharmacy patients and staff to find out how they experience these spaces, and these interviews will be filmed. During the interviews we will view photographs taken by patients and staff, as well as the floor plan of the pharmacy, to explore how people feel about pharmacy spaces. 
  3. This will be followed by a one-day workshop at which the pharmacy patients and staff who took part in the interviews will be invited, along with people who commission NHS services, other health staff (such as GPs), architects and artists. The workshop will be interactive; we will view some interview film clips, the photographs and pharmacy floor plans, and we will work with art materials to explore ideas about current pharmacy spaces and what could be improved in future.  

 How will the project findings be used? 

The findings from these three studies will be used to develop a Pharmacy Design Guide, which will be given to pharmacies in the local borough to use. From these studies we will learn how pharmacy patients and staff experience current pharmacy spaces, which will then help to plan future work, considering if the Pharmacy Design Guide has positive effects on patients health and wellbeing. 

This project was due to run from December 2018 to December 2020.