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FAQs for NHS Volunteer Responders

Support in action

How far am I reasonably expected to travel in order to fulfil a request?

Most of the travel requests will be very local, less than 5 miles. In more rural areas this will increase to a maximum of 20 miles.

Can I provide support after 7:30pm?

Alerts will be sent to people during the daytime, but this does not mean they need to actioned at that time (unless it’s a patient transport or NHS transport request). You can carry out your task at a time that is mutually convenient, but would need to accept the request before 7:30pm.

I’m encountering a ‘screening guardian’ when I call people, how should I identify myself?

We recommend giving your full name followed by ‘NHS Volunteer Responder’. If you still cannot make contact, please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I accepted an alert and went to support but another volunteer has turned up too?

An isolating person may have been referred for a variety of support. Make sure you check what support is required at the top of the message/alert/notification you receive. Please do not turn up at someone’s property without speaking to them on the phone first.

How will the person I’m supporting know that I’m a legitimate NHS Volunteer Responder?

You will be asked to show your profile page on the GoodSAM app, please make sure you have your phone on you and that you have uploaded a photo. Do not hand your phone to the isolating person.

I went straight to the location but the person was not expecting me, what should I do?

You should NEVER carry out a task without calling the number you have been provided with first. Please refer to your Getting You Started Guide for further information as there are certain conversations that you need to have with the person prior to undertaking a task. 

What should I do if an isolating person asks me to continue supporting them?

Tell them that you cannot offer this as an NHS Volunteer Responder. Please do not pass your contact details to anyone you are supporting, nor maintain an ongoing relationship with them. The programme has been designed so that people get a different volunteer each time. This is part of our safeguarding for the programme and is to protect you and the person you are supporting. Healthcare professionals refer people into the programme on the understanding that these safeguards are in place and upheld. Failure to do so risks undermining their confidence in making future referrals.

The person I’m supporting has asked for my phone number, should I give it out in case they need some additional support?

Please tell them that you cannot give them your personal phone number. You do not know the level of vulnerability the person is facing and taking the support outside the NHS Volunteer Responder programme potentially puts you and the person you are supporting at risk of harm. If you are concerned about the person you can call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

An isolating person has asked if we offer assistance with pet walking or if I can go for a walk with them?

Unfortunately we are not able to support these tasks as these activities are not available through the NHS Volunteer Responders programme.

An isolating person has tried to give me a gift of money for time, what should I do?

You can always suggest that they make a donation to a charity of their choice, including the Royal Voluntary Service COVID-19 Emergency Appeal.

The person I’m supporting has asked for additional support, how do I check if they have this logged in the system?

If someone you are supporting asks for additional support, call the Support Team 0808 196 3382 to ask if there is another or a reoccurring referral for them on the system. If not, the Support Team will be able to place another referral for the individual. 

The isolating person I have called would prefer to be contacted by a volunteer of a specific gender. Is this possible?

Unfortunately not. Due to the way the alerts are generated we are not able to allocate specific volunteers to people. You can explain that you can choose to ‘Pass to another volunteer’ if they do not wish to receive support from you. If they are not happy with this please call the Support Team 0808 196 3382 and we can call to advise them that we are not able to facilitate such requests.

If shops/supermarkets are not able to take payment over the phone, how will we pay for shopping?

There are lots of payment options available, these can be found in your Getting You Started Guide.  

I’m a Community Response Volunteer, will bags be provided for shopping?

Unfortunately we are not able to send bags to volunteers. We would advise using your own bags, due to infection control. Unpack the items onto the door step for the isolated person to retrieve. Please remember social distancing guidance.

The alert states information regarding the frequency of the referral, what does this mean?

A referrer will place a referral based on the support needs of the patient. For example, a patient may need volunteer support as a one-off or daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly. This is just to provide you with additional information when speaking with a patient and not a request for you to carry out the task daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly. When speaking to the patient you may want to explain the support that’s been set up for them in order to ensure they are aware of the frequency they will hear from a volunteer. If a patient mentions that they do not need the support that often or they would like more frequent support, please advise them to call the Support Team on 0808 196 3646 or you can offer to do this on their behalf.

A patient has advised that they are receiving too many phone calls from volunteers, what should I advise?

Firstly, check the frequency of the referral that has been placed. The referrer would have assigned volunteer support as one-off, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly and it may be that the patient does not feel this is required and would like to amend the frequency they are receiving volunteer support. If the patient would like to amend this, you can advise them to call the Support Team on 0808 196 3646 or you can offer to do this on their behalf. If the frequency set-up is correct e.g. weekly but the patient is receiving daily phone calls, please contact the Support Team who will investigate the referral.

How will I know what type of support a referrer requires as part of the ‘NHS Non-Clinical support’?

Referrers have been advised that they must include the type of support within the additional information section e.g. Stewarding at a Flu Clinic.  If you have not received clear information within your alert you can call the referrer on the number provided to gain clarification or pass to another volunteer. You may also want to raise this with the Support Team who can contact the referrer and advise them to re-submit a more detailed referral. 

What types of support cannot be accessed under the NHS Non-Clinical support?

Volunteers should not be expected to perform duties such as a receptionist role, clinical roles or stewarding for non-healthcare events or transport hubs. If you have received an alert requesting these types of support, please call the Support Team who will contact the referrer. 

I have selected ‘I will attend’ for a ‘NHS clinical support’ task but can no longer attend, what should I do?

Once you have confirmed attendance, this will show on your ‘tasks’ screen with attending in green, next to that shift. If you need to cancel a shift, swipe across the task, still on the tasks screen, and press ‘no longer attending’.

The person I’ve called doesn’t want help, what should I do?

If you make contact and find out that they do not want any support at this moment in time then press “CONTACTED – NO HELP NEEDED”. If they inform you that they no longer want any support and want to be removed then press ‘CLIENT WANTS TO BE REMOVED’.This will alert us that the referral needs to be cancelled and allow us to closely monitor this activity.

I’ve completed a Check In and Chat task and the person didn’t need any additional support. Which option should I select in the app?

You have completed the task and provided support, which is simply to check in and have a chat.  Please select, 'Contacted - Help provided'.

Can I request a one-off task for a client in addition to their existing regular support?

Yes, if the client informs you that they need one-off support between their regular help, you can call the Support Team on their behalf on 0808 196 3382 and we can arrange for a one-off referral to be added.

Print entire guide Page last reviewed: 09 July 2021

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