Staying safer

The Victorian Pharmacy Authority has issued advice from the state’s police service on security and safety during the pandemic

In its latest communique, the VPA says that Victoria Police has asked pharmacies to consider putting several processes in place.

These include:

  • Review of the business premise physical security including doors, windows, intruder alarms (monitored and audible), CCTV, signage and stickers of security measures in place (for deterrence).
  • The updating of ‘after hour’ contact details with local police station(s).
  • The removal of all cash including floats from the business premise and that any cash registers have their drawers left open and the trays sitting on top of the counter, and ‘No Cash Kept on Premise’ sign prominently displayed.
  • The securing of as much high-risk stock as possible to reduce the likelihood of the business being targeted by offenders.

Victoria Police have also offered pharmacies some advice around dealing with clients within the workplace.

Aggression towards pharmacists has emerged as a significant problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, with several organisations within the sector reporting an increase in difficult behaviour from pharmacy patients.

Via the VPA, Victoria Police made a number of suggestions to help manage such conflicts:

  • Assess the situation and remain calm and non-confrontational.
  • Stay Safe. Keep a safe distance and use natural barriers such as counters.
  • Talk calmly and do not raise your voice to match the aggressors.
  • Do not respond to the aggressor’s bad behaviour with bad behaviour yourself.
  • If the business employs security personnel employees, ensure they are informed and attend.
  • Allow the aggressor to vent his anger with minimal interruption.
  • Remain respectful. Be empathetic to the aggressors’ problem/s. Explain what options are available and encourage them to try one of them.
  • Patience is usually a good strategy, and this can be achieved by not only listening to the person but by acknowledging their problem or situation.
  • Employees should not take insults personally. Anger will diminish over time.
  • If the person is suffering from a psychotic episode, then their connection with reality usually rises and falls over time.
  • Other employees not involved in the incident should not become an audience, however they should monitor the situation for any possible escalation.
  • If the person is not able to be calmed and they continue to be offensive or obnoxious, politely request the person to leave the store.
  • After having been politely requested to leave the store, a person refuses, contact the police on Triple Zero (000) and await their arrival. Do not engage in any further unnecessary dialogue.

Victoria Police also suggest that pharmacies located in shopping centres get in touch with centre management and/or security to ensure that they are aware of the pharmacy’s situation.

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