Volunteer Role: Befriender and virtual visiting volunteer

Tags: Guidance, Toolkit, Template

16th March 2021



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Thank you to Nuria De Miguel from Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust for sharing.

CNWL Trust has almost 7,000 staff providing integrated healthcare to a third of London's population, Milton Keynes and areas beyond.

St Pancras Rehabilitation Unit (SPRU) provides treatment and support for patients whose physical abilities have been reduced through illness, such as a stroke, or a fall or a musculoskeletal condition.

About the role

Being in hospital can feel like a lonely experience, even more when Covid restrictions can limit visits and some patients can’t use a phone or don’t know how to video call their relatives. You will be the person who will help our patients feel more connected by chatting to them and helping them to digitally engage with others. You will have the potential to transform patient and carer experience and support our team resilience!


Very flexible, it can work around your spare time but we ask you to please be consistent and volunteer for a minimum of 3 hours a week, any day of the week, during visiting times, 10am to 8pm, seven days a week.

Key Tasks

  • Provide company and chat with our patients, some of whom may have no visitors or family to support them
  • Assist patients to get in touch digitally with family members and friends
  • Engage with family and friends, making their hospital visit even more enjoyable.

If you’d like to, you could also get involved in:

  • Supporting in serving drinks and meals
  • Providing general assistance in answering the door, phones and passing messages
  • Basic admin such as, photocopying, filing and printing labels
  • Restocking supplies, putting away stores deliveries – monitoring supply levels
  • Helping our housekeepers to keep areas clean and organised
  • Running errands to other departments, the community or people’s homes
  • Other reasonable tasks that you feel confident about and have been trained for.

The safety our volunteers, staff and patients is key, so we also ask you to:

  • Follow the same Covid-19 procedures as our staff, including regular Covid-19 testing, temperature checks and risk assessments
  • Be fully compliant with confidentiality of all information at all times, no matter how trivial it may appear, protecting the privacy and dignity of patients

Key traits, skills and experience

  • Reliability -to be someone we can rely on: consistent and dependable
  • Resilience: you will volunteer in a hospital setting with a range of people at different stages of their rehabilitation
  • Empathetic, compassionate, patient, tolerant and considerate
  • Initiative to identify tasks and support staff and patients
  • Adaptable and willing to learn
  • Good conversational and listening skills with a caring nature
  • A team player, being helpful, communicative, open, respectful and honest
  • The ability to work independently whilst staying within the role’s boundaries, recognising what should and shouldn’t be done, when to seek advice or report concerns
  • Let us know if you can speak other languages – as our patients come from a diverse community and some don’t speak English as their first language

What is in there for you?

  • The satisfaction of helping people to have a more enjoyable time whilst being hospitalised
  • The opportunity to develop new skills and learn in an hospital setting
  • The opportunity to help the NHS in a time of growing pressure
  • Full support and a range of relevant training, including Confidentiality, Safeguarding and Equality and Diversity
  • Local Trust induction and orientation
  • A reference for future volunteering or employment, after 6 months
  • Following our expenses policy, reimbursement of agreed expenses

Next steps and contact details

For an application form or to have a chat with our team, you can contact us on cnwl.volunteer@nhs.net

Specific COVID-19 Guidance for volunteers. We please ask you to:

  • Complete an individual risk assessment checklist for Covid-19
  • Follow the same testing protocol as staff members
  • Stop volunteering should you feel unwell and to follow the latest government and NHS advice for the public especially regarding COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Participate in training and induction, mostly via e-learning or virtual technology where possible
  • Reduce risk of transmission, volunteers shouldn’t enter other wards or clinical areas where at all possible– if running items to and from wards (e.g. pharmacy running), bring items to ward entrance for ward staff/volunteers to collect.
  • You will be trained in the usage, donning, doffing, and disposal of PPE in line with PHE guidance

What the role is NOT. You are not expected to be involved in any of the following:

  • Direct care or assistance for patient’s daily clinical activities, including personal or intimate nature care
  • Moving and handling activities –of patients or heavy items/ equipment.
  • Accessing to any medical and nursing records, or patient case notes
  • Assisting the patient with any form of medication
  • Involved in admission or discharge procedures
  • Involved in aggressive incidents
  • Pushing patients in wheelchairs unless wheelchair training has been completed
  • Escorting patients, unless Ward Manager directs/authorises
  • Answering enquiries about patients; whether on the phone or face to face
  • Cleaning up of bodily fluids.

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