FAQs for Volunteer Responders

Support in action

How far am I reasonably expected to travel in order to fulfill 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. You can carry out your task at a time that is mutually convenient, but would need to accept the request before 7:30pm.

What if the person I am supporting has questions about their medication, or how to take it?

If you are a Community Response Volunteer please refer the person to contact the dispensing pharmacy. The contact details should be found on the medication package label or the bag label. If you are a Pick Up and Deliver Volunteer please refer the person to the person name on their discharge letter or any information provided about the virtual ward.

The person who requested the support is not answering the door when I go to deliver.

When arranging the collection, do confirm with the person needing support the exact time you will be completing the task so they can agree to be in to receive the package.

Do knock loudly and ring any doorbell and allow time for the person to get to the door.

Try calling out through the letterbox and attempt to contact the person via the telephone. If you still cannot make contact, please telephone the Support Team on 0808 196 3382. You cannot hold on to the medicines overnight and delivery should be completed as soon as practicable to do so after collecting from the pharmacy.

I have been asked to sign for the medication by the pharmacist, can I do that?

Yes, as long as you have consent from the person being supported to collect their medication. Some medications require signature for collection as you are acting as a person representative, you will therefore be required to sign.

In some instances, the pharmacy team may telephone the person you are supporting to confirm consent to collect. Do not be worried by these additional checks.

What if the medication I collect spills or packaging breaks?

Please telephone the pharmacy or the named contact details on GoodSAM for advice and notify the person you are supporting as soon as possible. The contact details should be found on the medication package label or the bag label.

I have been asked to deliver another person’s medication which I wasn’t tasked with through GoodSAM. Am I ok to do this?

If you are a Community Response Volunteer, the consent to collect medicine is a one-to-one task between the person on GoodSAM and you as a Volunteer Responder. Therefore any additional must go through GoodSAM. If you are a Pick Up and Deliver Volunteer you might be asked to take more than 1 prescription. Please allow time to complete this in your shift and retain the postcodes for your expenses claim. These should be destroyed after your claim has been completed.

The person being supported has asked me to return a hazardous waste bag or bin to the pharmacy. What should I do?

Explain to the person being supported that this is not a permitted activity for a Volunteer Responder. As the disposal of hazardous waste is different depending on local authority, please advise the person being supported to contact their local council. This also applies to unused or out of date medicines.

I'm a Community Response volunteer and I've been asked to collect lateral flow tests, who is eligible for these?

People with identified health conditions are eligible for treatment for COVID-19 if they test positive. Free rapid lateral flow tests are available through local pharmacies for people with these identified conditions. see nhs.uk for more information about COVID-19 treatments.

What should I do with the personal details provided to me so I can collect lateral flow tests on behalf of an eligible person?

It is important you follow the guidelines for dealing with confidential information, As a reminder on data protection and confidentiality  when volunteering, visit key points for Volunteer Responders.

What if the person I'm collecting lateral flow tests for doesn't want to give me their details?

Advise them that you will be unable to collect the tests without this information to provide to the pharmacy and they will need to arrange collection through another route.

What do I do if the pharmacy I go to has no lateral flow tests?

Try other local pharmacies. If you are not able to pick up any tests please let the person know as soon as possible.

Which pharmacies can I collect lateral flow tests from?

Most pharmacies should have these in stock for eligible people. You can choose a pharmacy local to you rather than the one the person might usually use.

What if the person I am supporting has questions about the monitoring equipment I have delivered?

Please refer the person to contact the person name on their discharge letter or any information provided about the virtual ward.

The person being supported has asked me to return an old piece of monitoring equipment, or mobility aid such as a walking frame or crutches.

Please explain that this is not a permitted activity for Pick Up and Deliver. The person should contact the ward on their discharge letter or virtual ward information to arrange what to do with surplus equipment.

As a Community Response Volunteer, will I only receive 1 alert to support someone for up to a 6-week period?

The alerts will generate weekly, 1 per week for a 6-week period. At any point, you can reject the alert and this will pass it to another available volunteer.

As a Community Response Volunteer, will I need to inform the person I am supporting or the Support Team that I cannot support for the full 6-week period?

You do not need to inform the person you are supporting if you are not able to continue. If you are no longer able to support, reject the alert and this will pass it to another available volunteer. This volunteer will make contact with the person needing support. You can contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 if you have any concerns. 

Do I need a car to carry out Community Response tasks?

Community Response Volunteers don’t need to be able to drive to carry out tasks, using public transport or a bicycle is accepted. Just be mindful to set expectations with the person being supported as to the weight of goods you can manage at any one time and be sure not to overload yourself.

I am a Check In and Chat Volunteer, can I call the same person twice over a 6-week period?

You are only able to call the same person twice within a 6-week period. If you find  that you are getting numerous alerts for the same person, please 'Pass to another volunteer' on the GoodSAM app or ring the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I am a Check In and Chat Plus Volunteer, can I support the same person more than twice over a 6-week period?

Yes. Check In and Chat Plus is designed to have 3 calls a week over 6 weeks for each person you are supporting. This activity requires a DBS certificate on application so you are able to provide ongoing support to the same person.

Can I continue to support a person outside of the scheme?

No. Volunteer Responders 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 anyone outside the programme.

I am a Pick Up and Deliver Volunteer, how will I receive my alerts?

You will receive information for the alert based on whether it is a one off urgent task, or a short notice shift where you will potentially be delivering multiple items. The alert will include details of where you are picking up the item(s) from, any additional information you may need such as parking information and the location you are delivering to. If the alert is for a short notice shift you will be given the delivery details when you arrive at the pick up location.

I am a Pick Up and Deliver, What is a short notice shift?

This is when an alert will be sent to you 1 or 2 days before you need to carry out the activity. It will tell you where to go to collect the items and you will have contact details for someone at the pick up location. If you accept a short notice shift and can no longer make it please ensure you reject the task ASAP so it can be reassigned to another volunteer.

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Page last reviewed: 16 November 2023