Waiting Well Volunteers


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Created by Heather Wright - Last updated 18 days ago | Tags:

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21 September 2021 at 8:49am

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Does anyone have 'Waiting Well Volunteers' to support volunteers on hospital waiting lists? If so, what issues did you have to overcome (e.g. lone working; IT for volunteers; data protection)?

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Vy Tran

05 October 2021 at 1:54pm


Hi Heather,

How are you getting on with 'Waiting Well' volunteers? A few weeks ago we held a workshop discussing this very topic, I have included here some notes, hopefully that will be helpful to you and other.

The impacts of of waiting list on patients, staff and the NHS:

  1. Communication:

    1. Patients are not kept posted of what's happening with their appointments and implications for their health and wellbeing

    2. Impact on PALS

    3. Language barriers

    4. Patients can't access digital support

  2. Support for waiting and discharged patients:

    1. Lack of practical support in their home

    2. No links with organisations and community groups to provide patients with support at home.

  3. Supporting staff

    1. Staff experience burn out and exhaustion

    2. Staff not keen on supporting patients

The groups then discussed what volunteering intervention might look like, how it might work, and the barriers it might face.

Group 1: Communication

  • Information to share with patients on the waiting list.

  • Volunteers to make regular contact. Check in / chat.

  • Appointment reminder calls especially for those who are unable / don’t have access to a digital resource.

  • Weekly guided conversations via the Palliative care team.

  • Challenging role; will need support and specific training and continued learning.

  • Mental health training / how to escalate and a clear pathway to where.

  • Use people’s life skills to find the right volunteers.

  • Keep it simple and remember the principles of volunteering.

  • Carers need to be included.

  • Explored ready made roles around befriending.

  • Help for patients where English is not their first language.


  • In an ideal world the role should be clinically based however, some hospitals do not have the physical space to accommodate this

  • As a home based role there is a lot of work to be done around patient confidentiality.

  • Digital exclusion - good models out there with the right resources.

  • Funding

Group 2: Supporting people in their own home

  • Practical and emotional support

  • Varying types of support suggested; trips and falls, help with benefits, income advice, emotional support through befriending, stay well and staying mobile, living healthy etc

  • It’s not just the elderly with long term conditions.

  • There is a need to find a way of prioritising those with the most acute needs.

  • Lots of organisations and agencies already provide great services and resources and we need to link with them and work together.


  • Resource

  • Measuring and demonstrating impact

Group 3: Supporting staff

  • Conclusion: that this is not a very well established way of volunteering

  • Consideration: Volunteers would need to be trained for quite stressful and volatile situations. Recruit a volunteer with a counselling background for example.

  • Look at Project Wingman; not to replicate but learn from it.

  • PAT dog therapy. At the moment there are Health and safety and infection control issues.

  • Volunteer therapist role on one site

  • If asked, the staff would say that it is practical help on the wards that is most needed to free up their time to do their job.


  • Staff spaces get used for other services.

  • There are already staff wellbeing facilities in many trusts run through HR so you would have to consider the boundaries.

Hope the notes are useful :)

05 October 2021 at 2:08pm


Thanks Vy.

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