FAQs for NHS Volunteer Responders

Introduction

In this guide you will find answers to questions that you may have as an NHS Volunteer Responder.

Page last reviewed: 09 November 2020

Changes to the programme April 2022

What is happening with the programme?

NHSVR was established as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for Volunteer Responder support has changed and over recent months some of our roles have been needed less as life for many of those we have supported thankfully begins to return to normal. As such, we have now removed direct support for clients. Our Steward Volunteer role and NHS Transport role remain open as we support spring booster vaccines and while we consider how best to support the NHS over the coming months

How long will the NHS Transport and Steward Volunteer roles continue for?

Our Steward role and NHS Transport role currently remain open as we support the Spring Booster and while we consider how best to support the NHS over the coming months. There will be opportunities for NHS Volunteer Responders to help shape any new roles. Further information will be available once confirmed.

Can I continue to support a client outside the scheme?

No. NHSVR has stringent safeguarding and other support systems in place to protect both you and the people we support. For the safety of you and the people you help, you should not continue supporting any client outside the programme.

I am waiting for an expenses claim to be processed, will I still receive this?

We will continue to process any expenses claims for the roles which are ending if they are submitted by 3 June, please allow up to 4 weeks for your claim to be processed.

Can I sign up to be an NHS Transport Volunteer or Steward Volunteer?

Our volunteer registration form is now closed. If you are an existing NHS Volunteer Responder, you can still add the NHS Transport and Vaccination Steward roles to your profile.

Where can I find more information about the future of NHS Volunteer Responders and how I can be involved?

Please refer to the I’m a Volunteer page for more information about next steps.  

Will there be other opportunities for volunteering to support the NHS?

Yes – there are lots of health and care volunteering opportunities. We are also looking at how best NHS Volunteer Responders can help support the current challenges facing their NHS. We will use our regular NHSVR newsletter, social media channels and the website to keep volunteers up to date. Keep looking out for opportunities to get involved.

Information:

Visit the NHSVR Facebook page.

 

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2022

Expenses

How do I claim my out of pocket expenses?

Information:

Please visit concure.co.uk/rvs

Here you will find Frequently Asked Questions, a Quick Start Guide, many How-To videos and the Expenses Policy or email NHSVRExpenses@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk with any queries you may have.

 

 

Page last reviewed: 06 April 2022

Accepting/rejecting alerts

I need help setting up the GoodSAM app and guidance on how to respond to alerts

The step-by-step guidance for setting up the app and responding to alerts can be found in your Getting You Started Guides and on our NHS Volunteer Responders website. We also have a video you can watch to help get you started:  GoodSAM app video.

Do I have to accept every request that comes through?

No, only commit to what you can. Turn your ON DUTY toggle to on when you are available and select OFF when you are not available. If you do not want to accept a specific request, click 'Reject' on the GoodSAM app.

What happens if I accept a request but then find that I cannot make it or get delayed?

You can ‘Pass to another volunteer’ via the GoodSAM app if you can no longer help. 

How long will the information regarding the alert stay on my phone?

The details of a task will remain on your phone for 2 days minimum. The length of time the details will stay on your phone depends on what number volunteer you are within the alert cycle, therefore for most people, the alert will be on your phone for longer than 2 days, however please be assured that if you are the last volunteer to receive the alert you will still have the details for 2 days. Please note that if you select that you have completed a task (prior to actually completing it) the details will disappear.

I have accepted a task for the future (a few days time) but can no longer help?

Please call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382

I have received an alert that is 50 miles away from me?

Please 'Pass to another volunteer'. This may happen if the location settings are not correct on your phone. Make sure your location settings for your phone and the app are turned on and wait for another referral to come through. Please call our Support Team on 0808 196 3382 if you require support. 

Why am I receiving alerts after 7:30pm?

The GoodSAM app will only send notifications up to 7:30pm, however due to your signal/wifi availability/settings you may receive these alerts to your phone after this time. Please note our Support Team is open until 8pm on 0808 196 3382 if you need any help.

Why have I received an alert from yesterday?

This may happen if the referral was made and accepted by a volunteer who then dropped it after the 7:30pm cut-off. If you are unsure about whether you will be able to complete an alert, please reject it to ensure it is sent to another volunteer in time to avoid this happening.

Does being an NHS Volunteer Responder mean you will be called to an emergency? Is this the same as a First Responder for heart attacks?

You will only be asked to support tasks linked to NHS Volunteer Responder roles you agreed to do. The GoodSAM app is used by a number of organisations for different purposes, such as emergency responses. However, you will be using it as part of the NHS Volunteer Responder programme, which does not involve dealing with medical emergencies.

I can only support during the evenings and weekends, is this ok?

Yes, of course, whatever support you can offer is appreciated. You just need to ensure that when you can support, the ON DUTY toggle is turned ON in the GoodSAM app. When you are unavailable for support switch the ON DUTY toggle to OFF. That way you will never be sent requests for support when you are unavailable. 

Can I add another role to my volunteer record?

Yes, you can still add the NHS Transport Role and Vaccination Steward to your record. 

Go to goodsamapp.org/login and log in with the email address you used to sign up, you will be able to amend your roles under the ‘Change your current roles’ tab.

Can I stop certain alerts/remove a role from my volunteer record?

Yes, you can untick a role by logging in to goodsamapp.org/login using the email address you used to sign up, and access the ‘Change your current roles’ tab.

How will I know what type of support a referrer requires from me as a Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations)?

Referrers have been advised that they must include the type of support they require in the additional information section of the task alert e.g. stewarding at a COVID-19 vaccination site. If you have not received clear task information in your alert, you can reject the task. 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 requested under the Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) role?

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 Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) 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’.

 

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2022

PPE, uniform and ID

I am worried about cross-contamination when using my phone to show ID, shall I make my own ID badge?

Please do not create your own ID. Present your ID on your phone, keeping at least 2 metres away from the person you are supporting. If the person you are supporting is unable to see the ID, place your phone near the individual (e.g. doorstep) and step back. Ask them not to touch your phone while they’re checking the ID. Once the person you are supporting has stepped back, retrieve your phone. You could also show your ID by holding your phone up to a closed window if this is possible.

I would like to create my own T-shirt/uniform is this ok?

Please do not create a uniform, this is a non-uniform support programme.

This is to ensure there is clarity for those we are supporting about how to ID check their volunteer and to prevent the risk of people who are not volunteers creating replica uniforms that could potentially be used for negative purposes.

It is therefore vital that our NHS Volunteer Responders do not create their own uniforms and instead use their profile as identification within the GoodSAM app.  

Do I need to buy my own personal protective equipment (PPE)?

You will be required to wear a face covering during your volunteering, but you can claim back your PPE expense through the expense system.

Will I need PPE for Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) tasks?

Please bring a face covering with you for your shift. You can claim back your PPE expense through the expense system.

 

Page last reviewed: 06 April 2022

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 be actioned at that time (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.

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2022

Steward Volunteer questions

This section will be regularly updated. Please also check the Getting You Started Guide  which will answer many questions about the Steward Volunteer role.

Role and application process

What is the Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) role, and what does it involve?

Steward Volunteers help people move easily and safely through health, NHS and care sites – in particular COVID-19 vaccination sites. You may also be asked to support at other sites including GP surgeries and pharmacies. You could be asked to support with managing queues and directing people to the right place. Stewarding at vaccination sites can also involve monitoring numbers and ensuring safe social distancing measures are followed.

Can I claim expenses?

You can claim expenses. Each scheduled task you attend will generate a specific case number/task ID. This will be uploaded to the expense system the following day after attending in order for you to claim. For more information on what you can claim, visit concur.co.uk/rvs

Where can I find my case number/task ID to claim?

The case number/task ID will automatically upload to the expenses system once you have completed your shift and will show in the drop down menu when you start a new claim. You can find the case number/task ID in GoodSAM app by going into the reports section.

Role requirements

As a Steward Volunteer, how often do I need to volunteer?

You need to commit to at least 2 x 4 hour shifts at a vaccination site each month.

Is there a maximum number of shifts I can do?

If you are willing and able, you can commit to as many shifts as you feel able to support.

What if I have said I will attend and something changes?

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’.

Please remember to cancel if you are no longer able to attend a Steward Volunteer shift. This enables the team to identify another volunteer to meet the quota.

What happens if a referrer cancels Steward Volunteer shifts?

If a referrer cancels a request for Steward Volunteers and you have said you will attend, you will get a message in the messages/comms section of GoodSAM app. It will let you know of the cancellation and the shift/s will no longer show on your ‘tasks’ screen of GoodSAM.

I have arrived at shift and been sent away as they do not need volunteers?

Referrers have the facility to cancel a request for stewards or amend the number of stewards required. If you experience this then please contact us to let us know by calling the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 or email problemsolving@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk. We will then follow this up and support the site to mitigate this happening again for you and for other volunteers.

Do I need to call the referrer before I attend?

No. If you would like to discuss details of the task please call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382

Can I call the vaccination site for more details?  

Please do not contact the referrer or vaccination site directly. Vaccination sites will be very busy. If you have any questions, please look at the Getting You Started Guide and these FAQs or if you need to speak to someone, please call our Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I have been asked to complete a volunteer agreement at the vaccination site, is this correct?

Volunteers will be asked to do this by the NHS organisation responsible for managing vaccination sites in their area, known as a Lead Provider. It is an agreement between the Lead Provider and the volunteer, not with NHS Volunteer Responders or Royal Voluntary Service.

Can Steward Volunteers assist with testing in schools?

We know how keen people are to support the fightback against this virus, but unfortunately, the NHSVR programme is not able to provide volunteers for school virus testing. This is because our insurance arrangements would not cover this, and also because school volunteers would need to have DBS checks for working with children.

As always - if anyone has the extra time they can join up for other volunteering schemes as well as NHS Volunteer Responders, we just ask that you continue to be available with our programme as well.

How to use the App

When I log in to the app, there are no shifts in future tasks tab?

It’s important to check that all settings are correct and that notifications and location access is enabled. We have provided guidance in our GoodSAM app guide, 'how to download and enable settings'.

You should also check to make sure that you have the latest updates to the GoodSAM app. You can check this by going into your phone settings, into apps and checking if any updates are needed for the GoodSAM app. You can also check the GoodSAM app in Apple Store or Google Play and if there are updates required you will be able to click on updates. This will ensure you have the latest version, and nothing is restricting access to future tasks.

If you are still experiencing issues, then please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 or email problemsolving@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

How will I know when I am needed?

A request for you to support will appear in the ‘Future tasks’ section of the app. This can be found at either the top or bottom of the screen depending on whether you are using an iPhone or Android. For your information, a scheduled task is a request for support in the future. You will need to check in here frequently as you do not need to be on duty or get an alert to accept or reject.

Can I change the distance for my Steward Volunteer role on the app?

The distance for Steward Volunteers is currently set automatically at 32km (19.8 miles). For all other roles including Community Response, Patient Transport and NHS Transport, you can change the distance slider under the ‘Me’ tab. Adjusting the distance for any other roles won’t affect the 19.8miles/32km distance for the steward role.

I cannot see the Tasks tab on the app – what can I do?

This means that your phone has not processed the latest updates in the app. You can uninstall and re-install the GoodSAM app and then log in using your email and the password you chose when you registered with us. This will ensure you have the latest GoodSAM app updates.

I am struggling to use the app and find where I can see the scheduled requests for support?

Go to Using the GoodSAM app for a step by step guide to logging onto the app.

I am a Steward Volunteer and all my booked shifts have suddenly been cancelled and disappeared from the app. Why has this happened?

Occasionally shifts you have booked may be cancelled by the vaccination site due to unforeseen circumstances. However, if you have a series of shift cancellations and/or they disappear from the app with no further details, please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382 so that we can investigate why this has happened.

Volunteer safety

What training will I be given?

Your Getting You Started Guide explains what is required of the role so please read it carefully.

As this is a non-clinical role, no specific training is required however, when you arrive at a vaccination site for the first time, the Site Leader will take you through a site introduction and briefing.

Will I come in to direct contact with patients?

Yes – but only at a safe distance. One of the key jobs of our Steward Volunteers is to make sure people queuing up to receive their jabs are keeping to a safe social distance. This also includes you, so, where possible you should remain 2 metres away from patients, carers and other volunteers.

Will I be provided with uniform as a Steward Volunteer?

All registered Steward Volunteers will be sent a high-vis vest. You must bring them with you each time you volunteer. You will also be sent a branded poncho in due course.

Is there an expected dress code for Volunteer Stewards?

Volunteers are provided with a Steward Volunteer high-vis vest and a branded poncho, this is collectively known as ‘the uniform.’

Volunteers are expected to dress in appropriate comfortable footwear & clothing, suitable for a predominantly outdoor role in a range of weather conditions:

  • Casual denim is acceptable (no rips/holes etc)
  • Volunteers are asked to avoid wearing the following; sports team shirts or clothing with slogans/logos or offensive language
  • As we move into warmer weather, it’s important to work safely and maintain a welcoming and professional image at our NHS vaccination sites. Please remember the following:
    • Always wear enclosed shoes onsite for your safety
    • Ripped jeans and crop tops should not be worn onsite; skirts and shorts should be a suitable length.

Where will I be able to store my personal belongings?

As sites do vary, we encourage you only to take the essentials you need for stewarding eg phone for ID, bottle of water.  Wherever possible please avoid taking anything unnecessary with you or if driving to site leave any other belongings safely in your car. You can ask the Site Lead if there is anywhere to store belongings but due to different types of vaccination sites this may not always be possible.

Do I have to wear PPE?       

The safety of volunteers is extremely important. Please take a face covering to your shift.

When I am volunteering will I be safe from catching COVID-19?

Volunteer and patient safety is the NHS and Royal Voluntary Service’s top priority.

The Site Lead will ensure volunteers have the correct equipment to keep them safe, including appropriate PPE. Social distancing will be in place throughout volunteer shifts so, whenever possible, you should stay at least 2 metres away from patients and other volunteers.

Has a vaccination site risk assessment been completed and can I have a copy?

Each vaccination site has been set up by NHS England and a site risk assessment has been completed as part of that process. Steward Volunteers reporting to a vaccination site for the first time will be briefed by the Site Lead on health and safety and emergency site procedures as part of their site orientation. This will vary from site to site. If you want a copy of a site’s risk assessment, please discuss this with the Site Lead.

Why does the Steward Volunteer alert include a date and time?

Most NHS Volunteer Responder tasks can be completed within a range of 2 or 3 days. However, Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) shifts need to be carried out at a specific time to enable vaccination sites to plan their staffing appropriately. Therefore, the date and time that you are required to attend is included in the alert as well as any additional information that a referrer would like you to know. NHS Volunteer Responders who have signed up for these tasks can expect to receive at least 1 week’s notice so that they can also plan ahead.

What webinars are available for me to join?

You can find a full list of webinars with details of the content and timings here.

I have registered for a webinar and not received my link to join?

You will receive a link 24 hours before the webinar. Please do check your spam and junk folder as it can sometimes go in there. If you have not received this then please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I am trying to log on to a webinar and cannot get in?

We are sorry that you are experiencing difficulty in accessing the session. Please refer to the attached guidance on your invitation email. Alternatively, please see our joining instructions which will help you to ensure that all settings are correct to access the webinar. Following the session you will get an email with the slides and information from the webinar.

Can I accept shifts directly from the vaccination site?

Shifts you arrange outside the GoodSAM app are not covered by NHS Volunteer Responders programme and we can only pay expenses for stewarding shifts you accept through the GoodSAM app. Volunteering outside of the app also stops other NHS Volunteer Responders from having a fair opportunity to support shifts. Please help us keep you supported and let us know if you attend a vaccination site as an NHS Volunteer Responder and are asked to sign up to the site’s own volunteering rotas. Please call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

The site I have been volunteering at has asked me to do shifts locally outside of the app – is this OK?

It is your decision as to whether you wish to volunteer via a local arrangement. Please be aware that any steward shifts arranged outside of the GoodSAM app are not managed by Royal Voluntary Service, and we are unable to provide any follow-up support or assistance with these shifts or support with volunteer expenses.

Can I help with carrying out Lateral Flow Testing when I am volunteering at a vaccination site?

No, unfortunately this is not something we are able to support sites with. Our Steward Volunteers are not formally trained on this procedure and we are not contracted to provide this service. Please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 to let them know if this is something you have been asked to do when on site.  

Can I still receive Steward Volunteer tasks when I’m currently undertaking a task for a different role?

Yes. The Tasks tab will still be available for Steward Volunteer shifts even if you are currently carrying out another task.

 

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2022

Concerns whilst volunteering

Please call our Support Team on 0808 196 3382 if you have any concerns.

 

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2022

GoodSAM app troubleshooting

My app keeps freezing?

Check you are using a phone that is compatible with the GoodSAM app either an iPhone 5 upwards or a Google compatible smartphone that allows you to download the app from the Play store.

I am having trouble receiving or accessing alerts?

  • Check you are using a phone that is compatible with the app either an iPhone 5 upwards or a Google compatible smartphone that allows you to download the app from the Play store.
  • Check that you have enabled settings to receive alerts and notifications by going to phone settings > apps > permissions and ensuring location is switched ON and that the notifications toggle is ON.
  • Check that battery saving mode is not set on your phone as this restricts location access and automatically turns it off, so the app would not be able to see your location.

Should I use the communication function on the app? I have received a message on the app from another volunteer, what does this mean?

There is a function within the app which allows you to communicate with other nearby NHS Volunteer Responders. We advise you not to use this function in the GoodSAM app. To switch this function off, please go to the settings tab and turn the “Receive Buzz” setting to ‘Off’. This field is not monitored and could potentially risk a breach of data protection guidelines.

I get a notification but then it is not allowing me to come off the accept/reject screen?

Make sure your phone is compatible with the GoodSAM app. If it’s an Apple phone, the app is only compatible for an iPhone 5 and above. For Android, the app works with anything that Google supports, therefore if you do not have the functionality of Google Play, the app will not be able to operate on this phone. Secondly, check notifications settings by going into 'Settings' on your phone, make sure these are turned on. Then go into the GoodSAM app itself and set the notifications to ON. You could also try to re-install the app.

I cannot log into the GoodSAM app as the email and password boxes are blocked by other boxes?

This sounds like there is a compatibility issue with your phone, this tends to occur on iPhones that are older than the iPhone 5 version. Please make sure you are using an iPhone 5 or above. If using an Android, check this is compatible with Google and that you have installed the app using Google play store. 

I received an alert but when I clicked on it, nothing further came up and there is nothing in the comms section. I can see the person on the map but there is no information?

Firstly, if this happens please 'Pass to another Volunteer'. Check that your location and notifications are turned to ‘ON’, both on your phone settings and within the GoodSAM app and wait for another alert.

It keeps saying my email is 'invalid as has spaces in it', but I have entered it correctly?

Sometimes when entering the email address it can place a space when you enter (.) This happens automatically, so when you enter your email address just ensure that it has not entered a space after the (.) or at the start and end of your email address. It is better to try and enter the email address manually, instead of using autofill or copy and paste which can sometimes put a space that is not required into your email.

I have tried to upload an image on my profile page but the image will not save?

Please go into your Settings > apps > responder app, then check permissions and ensure that your camera toggle and storage toggle is set to 'ON'. Also ensure that your phone is not in battery saving mode as even when these settings are on it can restrict permissions and notifications.

I have been on duty, so why have my on-duty hours not updated?

The GoodSAM app updates every time it receives a location update from your phone. If the app does not receive an update from your phone due to your settings or lack of wifi/data it will not update your on-duty hours. The number of on-duty hours is not used for any purpose and has no bearing on you receiving alerts.

My alerts are coming through silent, can I change this?

Yes, you can do this within your phone settings.  Please go into your phone settings, select notifications then ‘Responder’ and toggle to allow critical alerts.  This will ensure your alerts will come through even when your phone is on silent. Watch our video below.

Information:

If you would like to see how to do this please watch this short video.

I’m registered as a NHS Volunteer Responder but cannot remember my password. How do I reset this?

You can reset your password by visiting goodsamapp.org/login

I’m not receiving tasks, is my phone set up correctly?

It may be that there are not any live requests for support in your area.  Please stay on-duty when you can as new referrals come in each day. However there are 2 key settings you must enable in order to receive tasks.  Please watch this short video and follow the instruction. 

Watch Getting started

Page last reviewed: 06 April 2022

General queries

I would like to change my name, email address or home address?

Please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I want to unsubscribe from email communications?

Our emails contain essential information relevant to the NHS Volunteer Responder role, therefore we do not regard them as promotional or marketing emails and this is why we do not offer an unsubscribe option. If you wish to stop receiving emails from us, we will of course, stop sending them to you but, unfortunately, this would mean that you will be unable to continue with your role as an NHS Volunteer Responder and will need to stop volunteering. If you wish to be unsubscribed from the emails, please email dataprotection@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk with your name and a confirmation that you no longer wish to be an NHS Volunteer Responder and that you wish for your data to be removed.

Where can I find out more information about my role and the questions I have?

We have a section specifically for our NHS Volunteer Responders, this has frequently asked questions, app guidance and Getting You Started Guides for each of the different volunteer roles. Alternatively, you can join one of our volunteer webinars and speak to a member of the team.

Do I need to change my car insurance to be able to drive as a volunteer?

If you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by coronavirus, we advise you contact your car insurers to let them know you are driving for voluntary purposes.

Can I volunteer using my bike?

Yes, this is fine as long as you are able to transport goods safely.Information:

I do not want to be an NHS Volunteer Responder anymore, how do I remove my details?

Thank you for supporting the NHS Volunteer programme. We want to let you know that if you decide to stop being a volunteer and cancel volunteering we can remove your details from the system. This will mean you will no longer be able to receive alerts and will end volunteering on behalf of the programme. Please email dataprotection@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk with your name and a confirmation that you no longer wish to be an NHS Volunteer Responder and request that your data be removed..

What webinars are available for me to join?

You can find a full list of webinars with details of the content and timings.

I have registered for a webinar and not received my link to join?

You will receive a link 24 hours before the webinar. Please do check your spam and junk folder as it can sometimes go in there. If you have not received this then please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I am trying to log on to a webinar and cannot get in?

We are sorry that you are experiencing difficulty in accessing the session. Please refer to the attached guidance on your invitation email. Alternatively, please see our joining instructions which will help you to ensure that all settings are correct to access the webinar. Following the session you will get an email with the slides and information from the webinar.

 

Page last reviewed: 12 April 2022