The service is targeting support at people who have been advised to isolate for an extended period of time.
GP practices and other healthcare professionals can ask NHS volunteers to help with tasks such as delivering medicines from pharmacies, driving patients to appointments or bringing them home from hospital.
Volunteers, who will receive ‘role specific training’ can also be asked to make regular phone calls to check on patients isolating at home.
Referrals should be made via the NHS Volunteer Responders referrers’ portal, where clinicians can enter details of the patient, select the type of support needed and the frequency.
Once complete, a request will be submitted and the referrer will be sent an email to confirm the request. Referrals then go into a matching process, with volunteers on duty able to accept requests.
Healthcare professionals can choose to track when the patient receives support via the portal and can remove an individual who no longer needs assistance.
Some 750,000 NHS volunteers will assist people with simple tasks, without compromising strict government advice on self-isolation and social distancing. The four types of volunteers include:
- Community response volunteer: collects shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.
- Patient transport volunteer - transports to patients who are medically fit for discharge, and ensuring that they are settled safely back in to their home.
- NHS transport volunteer - transports equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites, it may also involve assisting pharmacies with medication deliver.
- Check in and chat volunteer - provides short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.
The NHS Volunteer Responders referrers’ portal can be accessed here