Case studies

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West Dunbartonshire Community Health and Care Partnership (CHCP) community pharmacy resource


In April 2011, a resource ‘Let’s see if we can help’ initially aimed at community pharmacy, was launched. It has two elements:

  • a written guide of ´hints and tips´, covering ways to help people take their medicines, labelling and identification of medicines, and
  • a pack containing samples of stickers and pictograms to help identification of medicines and assist with directions, as well as aids such as bump-ons and information about stockists.

The resource aims:

  • to raise awareness amongst health and social care professionals of issues relating to the identification of medication by people with a visual impairment, and
  • to support people with a visual impairment to manage their medicines safely and independently.


In October 2009 West Dunbartonshire CHCP was approached by Focus, a local umbrella organisation for visually impaired people in West Dunbartonshire. Focus outlined difficulties encountered by visually impaired people in the safe use of prescribed medications.


A multi-disciplinary, multi-agency steering group including service users was convened.

From the NHS, group members included colleagues with expertise in pharmacy, learning and education, patient involvement, and inequalities. It was recognised that the resource could also be of benefit to people with a learning disability, so the group also included a learning disabilities nurse.

There was also representation from West Dunbartonshire Council, Focus (a local charity in West Dunbartonshire comprised of disability activists representing and lobbying for improvements for people with visual impairments), and from Visibility, a voluntary sector organisation that supports people with a visual impairment in the West of Scotland.

After initial discussions, the group agreed to produce a resource that would enable community pharmacists in the first instance to help visually impaired people to use and take their medicines safely.


Prior to the launch, baseline evaluation showed that approximately 19 per cent of pharmacists asked patients if they had difficulty taking their medicines if they had problems with their sight (and only if there was a clear indication such a problem existed). The help that they then were able to offer was limited to the size and positioning of labels.

However, 46 per cent of the pharmacists who have responded to a post-launch survey confirming they have used the guide, describe the information about the aids and alternative products to be useful. Some also describe having used items included in the pack, such as ´morning and night´ stickers.

Anecdotal evidence from the Sensory Impairment Service indicates that pharmacy staff have raised the issue of accessing medication with individuals, and changed their practice in ways such as marking boxes, and preparing eye drop bottles for immediate use.

The ‘Let’s See if We Can Help’ resource is available to download from West Dunbartonshire CHCP´s website.

Contact Pamela MacIntyre on 01389 812 319 or email: for further information.

NHS Highland – patient access


In April 2012 a range of NHS Highland staff collaborated to undertake an impact assessment of proposals to improve patient access to services. This impact assessment identified key areas for improvement relating to signage and appointment letters.


Through anecdotal evidence of patients’ experiences and staff views, the project identified that service users found it dfficult to access services in a timely and appropriate way.

The ambition to reduce ‘do not attend’ (DNAs) and potentially unused clinic sessions was another motivation for conducting this impact assessment.


Initially, examples of improvements to signage were sourced from other NHS boards, together with information about the effectiveness of implementing these improvements. Several options for improving signage were then developed.

Patient groups, staff groups and community groups were invited to become involved in recommending improvements. These groups met several times together with a designer to review the plans for changing signage and letters. This engagement provided NHS Highland with feedback about aspects viewed as beneficial as well as those requiring alteration.

Examples of improvements resulting from this engagement included colour changes based on the advice of the local autistic group. Input from individuals with a visual impairment resulted in changes being made to finishes and sizes.


As a result of the impact assessment, signage at Raigmore Hospital has been transformed. Hospital areas are now zoned and numbered and clinical department and other room names have been made more descriptive and meaningful. The colour and quantity of signs in the hospital has also been addressed.

Patient letters have also been improved. There is now one template for use across services when calling patients to appointment. Previously there were over 1000. The content and format of letters has been improved with only key information now included, font size increased to 14 and information about services available such as BSL interpreting added in a separate page.

Contact Caroline Tolan on 01463 704863 or email or for further information.

Updated 24 July 2014

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