Active Response Volunteers to provide additional support to NHS Trusts during recovery phase

12th April 2021

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Helpforce is supporting a number of NHS Trusts across the country to develop and implement an Active Response Volunteering model that will assist in easing pressure for hospitals.

The model will enable volunteers to quickly respond to requests for help from clinicians and patients in a fast-paced hospital environment as NHS Trusts return to a normal state of operation as the threat of COVID-19 reduces.

The programme, funded by NHS England, has seen Helpforce provide a wide range of support to NHS Trusts since January this year, including organising a number of educational workshops for volunteer service leaders which look at the aspects of service design and planning the implementation of the Active Response Volunteering model. The charity also uses a methodology of 'Adopt and Adapt', enabling Trusts to tailor the service to their needs.

Maeve Hully, Director of Volunteering at Helpforce, said: “We’re delighted to support NHS Trusts across England to build their Active Response Volunteering team so that the volunteers can support staff and patients as hospitals return to normal.

“The Active Response Volunteering model will enable volunteers to take on a variety of pre-identified tasks in hospitals and allow more time for clinicians to treat and care for patients. Tasks the volunteers undertake include pharmacy runs, assisting with PPE, providing mealtime support for patients, befriending services, meeting and greeting, and numerous other tasks that occur during the day-to-day function of a dynamic hospital environment. As demonstrated in our Volunteering Innovators Programme, where we worked with and supported Barts Health NHS Trust to implement their Active Response Volunteering service during the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how volunteers contributed to the fluctuating demands of a busy hospital adding value and saving clinician time. With the implementation of this model, 87% of Barts’ staff agreed that volunteers saved them time and 86% were very satisfied with the level of support provided by volunteers.

“We hope that through supporting Trusts develop this innovative and flexible volunteering model, the volunteers can help reduce pressure and provide a better experience for staff and patients. We know that the NHS will face many challenges in the upcoming months with tired staff, an unprecedented backlog of pending treatments, and low productivity due to social distancing restrictions and infection control. Adopting this Active Response Volunteering model can provide a flexible and effective solution to some of these pressures.”

Active response volunteers at Bart's Health NHS Trust

Anita Gillen, Volunteer Services Manager at St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said about the project: “I have enjoyed being part of this programme. The leadership, supervision and support I have received from the Helpforce team has given me the confidence to make the right choices in planning and implementing the Active Response Volunteering programme in our Trust to support the pharmacy services.”

Helpforce is also developing a wide range of programmes of work with the NHS, local authorities, the voluntary and charity sector to ensure volunteers can play an integral part in the patient journey and supporting communities.

To find out how the charity can help you in maximising the impact of your volunteers, email them on