The Royal Voluntary Service have multi-layered safeguarding processes in place for the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme. To ensure that appropriate and proportional safeguarding is in place for the tasks that are being undertaken, Royal Voluntary Service has followed Home Office guidance, risk assessed each role, and taken advice from appropriate bodies. Risk assessments are reviewed when changes are made to the patient group and/or a number of inappropriate referrals are received. Royal Voluntary Service takes into consideration the different cohorts and their differing requirements. These cohorts include: those who are shielding, those with cognitive impairments and/or significant vulnerability and people who may become vulnerable due to Covid-19. Patient safety information is provided to all patients and volunteers receive the appropriate role-based guidance and information.
The NHS England and Improvement safeguarding team have reviewed the processes around this scheme and are assured by them. There are also scheduled fortnightly meetings between the organisations and a process for escalating concerns.
There are a range of mitigating actions in place to ensure the safety of patients and volunteers, including but not limited to:
- Identification checks of all volunteers, which required a driving licence, passport or two utility bills to confirm identity.
- Connection with the police and National Crime Agency to ask that they inform Royal Voluntary Service of any inappropriate NHS Volunteer Responder known to them. If so, this will lead to instant removal.
- A safeguarding team in place at Royal Voluntary Service to pick up any concerns regarding patients or volunteers. Royal Voluntary Service are also in partnership with NSPCC to pick up and action any concerns around children. All concerns will also be passed onto the referrer or if no referrer present, the patient’s GP ensuring they are aware of the identified concerns. A team of volunteer partners pick up and investigate any concerns regarding volunteers. There is also the Royal Voluntary Service support team who are available to support with any queries that may come in and they can escalate to the safeguarding team or the Royal Voluntary Service problem solving team if required. Their phone lines are open between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week.
- NHS England and Improvement safeguarding leaflets are going out to patients about the NHS Volunteer Responder programme that also include links to the NHS England and Improvement safeguarding team.
- The GoodSam app provides identification for volunteers, shows what task they are undertaking at the current time and records volunteers as they are undertaking tasks.
- Volunteer NHS transporters supporting patient prescription drop-off are asked to provide a second photo identification to the pharmacy when volunteering.
- The GoodSam system matches volunteers within a locality against a task required in real time. This means volunteers do not continue to volunteer for the same patient. If this does occur volunteers are asked to only do this twice within a 4 week period to ensure limited development of informal volunteer patient relationships.
- Volunteers are not allowed to take volunteering ‘off-line’ by providing their own telephone numbers.