Supporting a person in their home
The person requiring support may want you to support them with their hobbies e.g. playing board games, reading, baking, gardening and enjoy a friendly chat whilst doing so. Be prepared to spend a couple of hours offering your time to support them.
The maximum time you can spend with someone in their home is 2 hours. Your first visit may be shorter as you get to know the person you are supporting and what they hope to get out of your time together.
The safety and wellbeing of our volunteers and the people we support is top priority to us, so when you are visiting a person in their home, we want to make sure you remain safe.
If you feel that someone may be unsafe in their home please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3636.
Supporting people in their homes fact sheet
Please note this guidance refers to the Connect activity only, no other volunteer activity involves volunteers entering the home.
This guidance is to ensure our volunteers and the people who we support are kept safe when entering a person’s home.
Most interactions will be positive, we just want you to be aware of any risks that may put yourself or the person you are supporting at harm. Please note that you should only enter a person’s home if directed in the Getting You Started Guide for your volunteering activity.
- Ensure you follow the GoodSAM guidelines for ‘Lone Working’ when you accept and attend a support request as a Volunteer Responder.
- Ensure you have read and understood the Getting You Started Guide for the activity you are supporting.
- Make sure you have the Support Team number saved on your phone should you need to contact them - 0808 196 3382
- If there is an emergency call 999 and then contact the Support Team to report the incident.
When you arrive
- Say who you are, why you are there and show your GoodSAM ID on your phone.
- Do not attempt to enter the home if the person is inappropriately dressed which may place you in a vulnerable position, or if the person appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- When entering a person’s home, try to keep the person in front of you.
- Whenever possible and upon leaving, do not allow the person to come between you and the exit.
- Ask for dogs or other animals to be put in another room. (Do not enter premises if a threatening animal is present.)
- Check, as you go in, how the front door opens.
- Take only what you need into the house. Do not spread your belongings around.
- Study your surroundings and look for an exit.
- Remain alert. Watch for changes in mood, movements, or expressions.
- If you are concerned for your safety in any situation, remove yourself as soon as possible.
We all live very differently and it’s important that we avoid passing judgement on another person’s environment. However, it you feel a person is at harm due to any of the following please report it as soon as possible to the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.
- Try not to react to bad smells or surroundings that you consider to be “dirty”. However, if you feel the surroundings are unsanitary and want to leave, please do so.
- Hoarding is a mental health problem where people have a strong need to keep things and not be able to throw things away. This may mean there can be a lot of clutter or possessions around. Always respect peoples living environments. If you feel a person could come to harm because of the situation, please report it.
- If you think someone is at harm due to unsafe gas/electrical equipment or an infestation, please report it as soon as possible.
Minimising the risks
It is important to be able to recognise the signs of aggressive and threatening behaviour. Increasing tension may be signalled by a person's voice getting louder or dropping to a threatening tone.
Verbal threats should always be taken seriously:
- Racist comments, sexist remarks or foul language.
- Threatening gestures.
- Pointing/poking fingers or pushing.
For some people who are behaving aggressively it is likely that they are afraid of losing control. You can reassure them that they are still in control of their own circumstances and that you do not represent a threat to them.
It’s good to:
- Stay calm and keep your voice down.
- Listen and be interested.
- Avoid raising your hands or pointing.
- Not stand too close and don’t touch a person who is becoming agitated.
- Leave if necessary.
Mobile phone use
Volunteers should always carry a fully charged mobile phone and they should always check the signal strength. Keep to hand when in a person’s home and not in a handbag or coat elsewhere in the property.
You may need to use your mobile phone to research local opportunities or information. You may also want to suggest that the person you are supporting does this on their device if applicable. We recommend that you do not hand over your phone at any point.
If there has been any problem during a visit or even a feeling of unease the details should be reported to the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 who will follow up with you and the person receiving support if required. Incidents that are left unreported can leave the next person in this situation at risk.
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Page last reviewed: 28 November 2023