Pharmacists are now offering health advice, treatment and support as well as dispensing medication, so understanding all your communities’ needs, will have you deliver the best service for everyone

All this week sex, relationships and intimacy therapist, Emma Ziff, explains how to understand and encourage LGBT patients to share their issues and concerns with you.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community will be a proportion of your patients and you will need to be aware of the many resources, services and organisations available to you and them.

Pharmacists often ask me: “How do I pose questions my LGBT patients in a way that will not offend them? I am concerned about saying the wrong thing.”

One of the most important skills you must learn is gender neutrality when talking to all patients.

It can be very infuriating for patients when someone uses ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, or ‘he’ or ‘she’ when assuming the patient has a partner of the same or opposite sex, when it does not apply to them.

Use gender-neutral pronouns such as: ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’, and ‘your partner’.

Or use both in a sentence, ie ‘will he or she need…’ and ‘has his or her infection…’.

Listen to what they say and follow suit.

What may seem like a small act to you will make a huge difference to them, as they will note that you have taken their needs in to consideration.

Never assume someone’s sexual orientation.

It is also very useful to find out someone’s sexuality if there is chronic illness, as this can help you understand their lifestyle and what the needs are to support them.

Remember it is about compassion and sensory acuity to their needs.

Come back tomorrow to find out more about the correct terminology and putting your patients at ease.