Responding to Demand

As COVID-19 evolves, the demand and pace for new/ different volunteer roles is growing, meaning that the structure of the volunteering team within the hospitals needs to be responsive, agile and resilient.

There is growing learning across the NHS as to how teams are achieving this and in the COVI-19 forum you can discuss and learn from those in similar situations.

Broader roles

The roles of the volunteers need to quickly reflect the changing needs of the hospital with many choosing to provide fewer roles with broader tasks able to be completed. Currently, these roles are categorised as:

  •     Response volunteerWorking across the hospital to reduce pressure points.
  •     Ward HelperSupporting patients and clinical teams within a ward
  •     Virtual Befriender/ Phone BankUsing the phone and video technology to provide essential support to patients.
Flexible training

This approach needs to be matched with a minimised and simplified training schedule, ideally on-line and accessed and completed ahead of a new volunteer’s first day.

A volunteer then needs to be able to add to their skills by completing additional training as new tasks are identified.

Responsive infrastructure
  • Introducing a simple mechanism for identifying task gaps from across the hospital so that staff can simply and effectively deploy a volunteer e.g. a bleep, hotline, Google Form submission, Whatsapp, etc.
  • Looking to connect with services where they have an existing supporting infrastructure such as Estates and Facilities or Portering so that they can deploy the volunteers in a responsive manner
  • Implementing a ‘volunteering hub’ which creates a “one-stop shop” where volunteers can start their day and be deployed; act as a base when tasks change and to get ongoing pastoral support; and to close their day
  • Providing simple and effective communications that manage expectations and ensure staff know how to:
    • Request volunteers
    • Know what tasks can be undertaken by volunteers
    • When and how the volunteers will be deployed to them
Building Service Resilience

It is likely that some members of your staff will need to self-isolate at any one time. This risk needs to be considered in the volume of volunteers that you have coming through your attraction and on-boarding process. You might want to:

  • Look to redeploy any existing volunteers, who may no longer be able to come into the Trust, into any virtual roles you may have or refer them to the NHS Volunteer Responders
  • Look to train up experienced volunteers as ‘Volunteer Leads’ who can take on coordination/ management tasks
  • Secure support from other departments (such as Human Resource or Patient Experience team) that can step in and help, should key team members, including yourself need to be away from work for a period of time.

To chat with other member of the network, to discuss issues or to share your progress, get feedback on your thinking and learn from others, please join the conversation on the forum.