Non COVID – 19, Ward Helper

We would like to thank the Volunteering team at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for sharing with us this role description. Please note that this is only an example, which can be edited for your Trust’s need.


Volunteer will engage with patients as part of a large multi-disciplinary team of nurses, doctors and therapists. Although their role will not be clinical, they will have a key part to play as it provides the ward with an extra pair of hands, assisting with non-clinical tasks such as chatting to patients, distributing meals, making drinks and running errands for staff and patients. They will be assigned to one of the Trust’s inpatient wards depending on where the need is and on their availability.

What tasks can they do?

Note: This list is not exhaustive and can be expanded or cut down, in response to the changing needs of your hospital in the face of COVID-19. As the needs increase we would encourage you to think innovatively and expand the tasks performed by volunteers.

  • Befriending: spending time with patients who do not have many/any visitors. This could include playing games, reading or any other activity. Patients might also be elderly and like to reminisce – there are specific activities available on the ward for patients with dementia
  • Helping patients to call and face time their families and friends 
  • Ensuring patient water jugs are full
  • Escorting patients to different departments within the hospital for bloods tests, scans and x-rays as instructed by medical staff
  • Supporting the nurses with pharmacy collections
  • Providing patients and visitors with tea, coffee and other refreshments and ensuring water jugs are full
  • Helping patients visit the coffee shops within the hospital
  • Brushing patients’ hair (only if you feel comfortable doing so)
  • Fetching extra pillows or blankets for patients if they would like (checking with staff first)
  • Assisting the physio team with patients recovery – although you are not expected to do any special lifting or use any specialist equipment or harnesses. This could include encouraging patients with their exercises
  • Cleaning – this will only involve light cleaning such as keeping the day room tidy or some light dusting
  • Bed changing
  • Deliveries to and from the lab

Volunteers will also have a key role to play during mealtimes:

  • Helping distribute the meals to patients
  • Sitting with patients at meal times, to socialise and normalise eating and to encourage those who require it to try a little more food or fluid 
  • Sitting with patients who may need prompting to eat, such as those with dementia or those who need additional encouragement 
  • Ensuring that a patient can reach their food, fluids and utensils
  • Assisting a patient by placing their food onto the fork or spoon for them to eat 
  • Assisting with cutting up of food or refilling of fluids 
  • Patient feeding – only with training and supervision. Something that you may consider at a later stage, should COVID-19 demands grow
  • Helping patients to brush their teeth after meals. This does not involve brushing their teeth for them. But some may need their toothbrush and toothpaste getting ready as they are recovering from strokes and may have weakness on one side
Boundaries (What volunteers won't do)
  • No clinical care of patients
  • No personal care (e.g. toileting or getting patients changed)
  • No lifting of heavy equipment
  • No feeding without training and supervision
Pre-placement checks
  • Volunteers must have an enhanced criminal record check (DBS) for this role. If they do not have one already then the Trust should organise for one.
  • This role requires that they have certain immunisations and they will need to complete a health declaration form.
Who are they?


Age: Volunteers must be 16 years or older to volunteer in this role

Accessibility: This role is accessible to people with wheelchairs or who have other mobility issues

Health: Volunteers should be in a low risk health group. Vulnerable adults, those considered at an increased risk of severe illness or those caring for vulnerable adults are not suitable.  COVID-19 exposure: Those who have symptoms of COVID-19, been exposed to those suffering from COVID-19 or recently returned from high risk countries (including Italy, Iran and China) are not suitable volunteers until after a 14 day isolation period. For more information, please visit this link.

As a volunteer, they will embody the Trust’s values:

  • Putting patients first
  • Responsive to, and supportive of, patients and staff
  • Open, welcoming and honest
  • Unfailingly kind, treating everyone with respect, compassion and dignity
  • Determined to develop our skills and continuously improve the quality of care

Skills and other requirements:

  • Be self-motivated with an ability to think on their feet and work independently
  • Be punctual and dependable
  • Have a professional and friendly demeanour
  • Be flexible and eager to learn
  • Be resilient. Some patients might be distressed, and seeing patients with delirium or dementia can be distressing for some

What training should be considered?

To access training related to these roles please click here to join the National Learning Hub for Volunteers

Core volunteer training covered in induction may include:

  • Health and Safety
  • Infection control
  • Information Governance
  • Fire Safety
  • Manual and Handling

Depending on their tasks, specialist training may include:

  • Feeding
  • Dementia care training