Before you start volunteering, please read this page carefully as the safety of volunteers and the people and organisations they are helping is of the utmost importance to us and we take it very seriously. During these difficult times when the most vulnerable people and organisations in our communities need as much support as possible, it is important to help them in a way that does not put them at any further risk, or compromise anyone’s health and safety. We have produced the robust guidelines below which have been reviewed and approved by health care professionals and are based on WHO advice. We have tried to be as comprehensive as possible. However, at all times, please try to stay informed, keep an eye on and adhere to the latest guidance from your country’s government and the WHO. If you follow the steps above and behave responsibly you can help minimise risks and make sure you do not contribute to the spread of the virus or cause any harm to yourself and others.
Please print the shareable flyers below and post them through your nearby neighbours letters boxes or to anyone you think would be keen to volunteer to offer help or is looking for help:
While volunteering, or working with volunteers, you will meet individuals with diverse backgrounds and we ask you to spread kindness, respect every individual’s beliefs and that you treat everyone in the way you wish others to treat you. Please make sure you are not making anyone feel excluded and that you are not making inappropriate and insensitive questions, comments or jokes. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Please respect everyone regardless of who they are, where they come from and what they believe in. If you feel that someone is not treating you in the right way, please let us know by reporting that person on the platform.
Reporting a user
If someone is misusing the platform, please report them. You can do so by clicking the report button on your dashboard page and by filling in the information requested. The case will then be investigated and reported to relevant authorities if necessary. We have a strict no tolerance policy with regards to breaches of the guidelines below and will remove anyone from the platform who demonstrates misconduct.
Keep up to date with international and national guidance as it comes out
Please make sure that you are always following the latest guidance from the World Health Organisation and your country’s guidance on how to act during these difficult times. If you are signing up to work with an organisation, please make sure that you are following all of their safety procedures.
Please do not volunteer to help with anything but virtual calls/phone calls if you have a cough, are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or are at high risk of getting infected (e.g. immunocompromised and hence self-isolating). Wash your hands before and after any deliveries and we recommend that you please try to keep a bottle of hand sanitiser (with alcohol) with you when you are outside. Please ensure you adhere strictly to the social distancing guidelines of the country you are in. Take extra precautions if the person you are helping belongs to one of the groups that are at higher risk. The official WHO guide on proper hand hygiene can be found here: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf
Please ensure that you carry out multiple errands in one journey, in order to try to minimise the number of journeys you take outside your home. For example, you could do your own shopping and the shopping for the others you are helping at the same time.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm, and wash such clothes thoroughly at the earliest practicable opportunity.
Please adhere to social distancing protocols. Keep at a safe distance (at least 1-2m) when delivering the goods and try to make sure that you are wearing masks (even if it is a rudimentary face covering), especially if the person you are helping is immunocompromised or aged 65 and above, or in any other at risk group.
Disinfect any surfaces that will be touched by the person you are helping (example: bag handles etc). Please follow the more detailed guidelines below on what to do if the person is immunocompromised.
Please try to avoid public transport if possible (if you have no other travelling option avoid rush hours and busy times if you can). We encourage you to try to help those in your local area to minimise the chance of getting infected. If you are travelling in a private car, please make sure that you have disinfected all of the surfaces that you will touch. If you must use public transport, please wear gloves that you can change or use hand sanitiser, avoiding touching surfaces with your hands in the first place. If you are wearing gloves, please remove them immediately after leaving public transport without touching the exterior with your bare skin.
Whenever you need to drop something off or take money/vouchers/prepaid cards from individuals, please make sure that you are disinfecting all of the areas that are being touched and that you are at a safe distance (at least 1-2 m away from each other). Please do not enter into anyone’s home under any circumstances.
You must ensure strict compliance with data protection laws, and not share any data shared with you with anybody else. Any spreadsheets with personal information must be password protected and saved on a secure cloud storage service, or on a computer that is clearly password protected to which only you have access to the password.
Always wash your hands after you’ve helped someone by delivering goods and make sure you disinfect any items that might potentially carry the virus.
Please do not do any volunteer tasks if you are the influence of alcohol, medication or anything else that might impact your behaviour.
Please make sure that you are always following your government’s latest advice on how to act during these times.
Helping with shopping
Please do not enter into anyone’s home under any circumstances. Please leave the shopping outside the doorstep and let the person know when you will do so and once you are there. Wait at a safe distance (at least 1-2m away) until the person has picked it up and then leave.
When buying any goods, please make sure that all of the packaging is sealed properly and that all of the products have been kept the way they are supposed to be (for example, if something is supposed to be frozen, check if it still is). Please be cautious about shopping in crowded retail stores.
Please establish whether you are required to go shopping on behalf of the isolating person or if you are required to pick up a pre-paid order. If you are required to go shopping, please make a list of all the items they would like you to purchase. Please let the individual know that you will try and obtain all the items listed but in the current situation, all items may not be available. If that is the case, please call the person you are helping to ask them about any alternatives that might be suitable and available.
Always ask the individual if they have any dietary requirements and if there are any brands of goods they require as well as what the prefered brand is if the item is out of stock. Please also ensure you agree a clear time for delivery.
If you need to collect a voucher, pre-paid card or cash in advance of shopping, please arrange a suitable time to go and collect it and follow hygiene and social distancing measures. If you are returning a pre-paid card or voucher please ensure you follow the hygiene and social distancing guidance. Please take a look at the Payment Options section below for more details.
Please ask for help with prescriptions only when there is no possibility for your medicine to be delivered to you by a pharmacy. If this is the case, the person looking for help will need to call their pharmacy and place an order for their prescription over the phone and make payment. Please let the volunteer know once this has been done as well as when the prescription should be ready for collection. Volunteers must take extra care with collecting and delivering prescriptions in a safe and hygienic manner, due to the nature of the items. Please double check with the pharmacy if all of the labeling is as it should be.
Ensure you check whether the individual pays for their prescriptions. You may need to provide some personal details to the pharmacy in order to collect the prescription e.g. name and address. Check this information with the individual beforehand. Let them know what time you are going to collect and drop off the prescription. Tell the individual that you will only be able to drop off the prescription at the doorstep and check they are able to come to the door to collect it. Step away at a safe distance (minimum 1-2m) and wait for them to collect it.
Please do not open the prescription bag, if the medication spills or breaks, return to the pharmacy. Some medication may need to be stored in the fridge, you will be told this on collection, please communicate this to the isolating person.
Some prescriptions might potentially have a high value and people might try to steal them. If that happens, the person needing the prescription can be at great risk so please follow all of the guidelines to try to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Please make sure to protect the confidentiality of the person you are helping – When collecting prescriptions the person may need to provide sensitive information – i.e. details of their prescription. Volunteers must understand the level of confidentiality expected of them. The person’s privacy must be respected at all times. SAny prescriptions that cannot be delivered need to be returned to the pharmacy. If the individual has a question about the medication, please ask them to contact the pharmacy. Under no circumstances are volunteers to administer any medication.
Please be sure to check if there is any additional information provided by the pharmacy that you need to tell the individual. Do not give your own advice on medication under any circumstances, including the over-the-counter medicines.
Delivering goods to someone who is immunocompromised
The volunteer should not enter the help seeker’s home under any circumstances during the process in order to prevent the virus from spreading into the house. The following guidelines are of the utmost importance generally and especially if the person you are delivering the goods to is immunocompromised.
Please clean and disinfect each item that you are going to deliver and place all the items in a plastic bag which has been disinfected inside and out or in a new clean bag. Please ensure that all of the items have been disinfected properly especially if you are delivering them to someone who is immunocompromised. In cases where this is not possible, please take a pre-prepared double bag to the shop and ask the recipient to disinfect the items once they have been delivered, making it clear that you have not disinfected them yourself. Please do this only if you are sure that the isolating individual is aware of the need to disinfect the item (please communicate the importance) and happy to do it themselves.
With regards to recommended precautions about bags, please place your bag with items into another bag which has been disinfected inside and out or into a new bag, in order to protect the disinfected items so that an immunocompromised person can touch them safely. We recommend you fold down the outer bag so that the isolating person doesn’t have to touch it and please try to avoid touching the inner bag. Please avoid speaking while you are doing this and do not touch your phone or other items like a wallet which may not be disinfected until you have safely placed the items on the doorstep to avoid any potential virus transferring from your phone, wallet etc. onto the bag/items. If you need to use your phone, please make sure to use hand sanitiser/wipes or you change your gloves immediately afterwards and avoid touching any disinfected areas. When putting on a fresh pair of gloves, please ensure that you only touch the area that is meant to be on the inside. If you have hand sanitiser, please use it before putting the gloves on. Once the person you are helping has taken the inner bag please do take the outer bag with you.
Please try to always wear a mask or face covering if you are in position to do so. Please put on the mask/face covering before after washing or sanitising your hands. As noted in the General Precautions section above, please ensure you keep at a safe distance (at least 1-2m) at all times.
Helping with post/parcels
In instances where a volunteer is helping an individual with taking their post to a post office/mailbox the following should be done: The isolating individual should place all of their post/parcels that they wish to be taken to the post office/mailbox in a new or disinfected bag, making sure that the areas to be touched by the volunteer are not contaminated. They should leave the bag containing the post on their doorstep once the volunteer has arrived and is at a safe distance (at least 1-2m away). They should step back at a safe distance or close the door and let the volunteer take the bag containing the post to be delivered to the nearest post office/mailbox.
The volunteer should provide some personal identification details including their full name to the individual they are helping so that they can be reported to the police in the case of misuse. The volunteer should let the individual know once they have taken the post/parcels and once they have completed the task. The volunteer should not copy or note any sensitive information, such as any information on the envelopes and should not under any circumstances open the post or parcels.
We suggest that this should be your last resort and that you should first try to contact any people you know and trust. Please ensure you speak to any volunteer via phone or video call first in order to be able to build up trust in the person you are asking to help take your post/parcels. In cases of any misuse, please report the volunteer.
Taking the rubbish out
In situations where the volunteer is helping an isolating person taking out rubbish/trash, the isolating person should first disinfect any areas to be touched by the volunteer and then leave the rubbish on their doorstep for the volunteer to collect and dispose of at the nearest place where they can do so. Please make sure that you are doing so following the local guidelines around bins and taking the rubbish/trash out.
Assisting with pets and talking pets out for walks
When taking someone’s pets for a walk, please ensure that you are taking the pets from one household at a time. Please make sure that you are familiar with the type of an animal before agreeing to help with taking it out for a walk. For example, please don’t take someone’s dog out for a walk if you have never done that before.
Pets should be walked around in the vicinity of the neighbourhood of the owner, following local guidelines and ensuring that nobody is put in danger. All pets need to be on a leash the entire time. Please agree on the duration of the walk with the pet owner you are helping as well as the route prior to the walk itself.
The volunteers should try to have their own suitable leashes to be used whilst taking the pets out for a walk. They should be collected and returned in one of the following manners (ensuring that the distance between the volunteer and the owner is at least 1-2m):
- Collection: the owner should tie the leash on the front door while the volunteer is waiting at a safe distance. The owner should then close the door or step back so that the volunteer can safely take the leash in a safe manner and take the pet out for a walk.
Return: The owner should again have the leash tied on the front door, so that the volunteer can exchange the leashes once again and return the animal safely to its owner.
- A similar procedure to 1. Can be followed with no tieing the leash to the front door, but letting the animal go from the owner to the volunteer in order to get the leash changed, provided that the distance in between the owner and the volunteer is at least 1-2m at all times.
Proper hand hygiene should always be used and the general guidelines followed. Please try not to touch the animal unless necessary and maintain the social distancing protocol. Please try not to touch your phone or complete any other tasks while taking the pets out for a walk. All of the litter should be picked up and be disposed of following the rules of your local authorities.
Payment options and advice
Please choose what is most suitable for you. Our recommendation is to avoid the use of all cash, e-vouchers etc., and physical payments where possible. We would suggest all parties involved use online payment methods (e.g. bank transfers etc.).
Volunteers always need to present the individuals they are helping with receipts and must return any prepaid cards, vouchers, change etc. to the individual they are helping following the safety guidelines (disinfecting, leaving at the doorstep, stepping away at a safe distance and waiting for it to be picked up). If you are seeking help, we strongly recommend against offering credit or debit cards to volunteers, in order to reduce the risk of fraud. We would suggest not asking for transactions greater than 30 pounds in order to reduce the risk on any single party.
Supermarket click and collect services should be used where possible and available. It is preferred as the person seeking help can do the shopping and pay in advance online, so the volunteer just has to help with the picking up and dropping off of the prepaid items.
Click and collect for local trusted shops: We also recommend this and often local shops will allow you to place an order over the phone and make a payment over the phone if possible.
Payment over the phone at check out: this should be available at some local stores and the payment details for the shopping can be taken over the phone by the shop assistant. The person seeking help should ensure that this is possible by calling the shop assistant in advance. The volunteer should explain that they are volunteering and picking up the order for a person that is unable to come due to the current situation.
Prepaid supermarket voucher or gift card or e-voucher: please collect and return the physical cards and vouchers following the safety guidelines above (disinfection, safe distance) and print the e-vouchers where possible.
Paying with cash: Volunteers should try not to use their own cash and should always return the exact change with the receipt to the individual they are helping. When collecting the cash, the volunteers should show their ID to the individual they are helping for their details to be taken in case of a theft. Please place the receipt and the change on the doorstep and receive the cash in a similar manner. The individual that is isolating should present the cash on the doorstep and step back at a safe distance until the volunteer takes it. Please do not exchange more than £45 maximum in this manner.
Please place all prepaid cards and e-vouchers into a disinfected box or a bag to reduce contact.
Chatting with and checking on someone
As we have already mentioned, we recommend that you use a secure digital platform for your own safety when it comes to calls (e.g. video conferencing tools). The volunteers should initiate conversation and regularly check on the isolating individuals/those looking for help. Having regular contact with someone that is in isolation or in need of support can make a really big difference to them as it is very easy to get lonely during these difficult times. Having regular calls with someone who may have little or no contact with others can very positively affect their mental health. Please try to schedule calls on a daily basis if possible, at times that suit both parties. Please always be kind and considerate. Calls should not be arranged with any party under the age of 18.
Please make sure that any potential personal information or details provided through a call are kept confidential. All of the information received from both parties should be treated with respect and handled in a confidential way. Please do not share anyone’s contact details online or somewhere where other people might have access to them. Once again, please use a secure digital platform minimise the risk of contact information leakage.
Please be even more considerate if the isolating individual has a cognitive difficulty or Dementia. When speaking to such individuals you should try to speak slowly and clearly, and may need to repeat yourself, revisit elements of the conversation or communicate things in more simple language. Please be patient and make sure that you can have a conversation that will not hurt anybody’s feelings. If you are told any information of concern, please flag it to the relevant authorities immediately.
Some of the questions you can ask to start the call, help the conversation get going and make sure they are looking after themselves properly include: How are you doing today? Are you managing to get around the house ok? How are you feeling today? Have you managed to speak to any of your friends or family? What is a typical day like for you? Do you enjoy reading or watching TV? Are you managing to prepare your meals? Do you have all the medication you need? Are you able to get out to the garden for some fresh air?
Please remember at all times that this might be a very rare opportunity for the isolating individual you are communicating with to have someone to talk to. They are very likely to be listening to the news and television so they might be hearing human voices a lot, but they might not have an opportunity to speak. That’s why it is so important to check on them, listen to what they are saying and encourage them to speak about things they are comfortable discussing. As a reminder once again, please remember not to share any confidential information and to treat everyone equally and with respect and kindness.
If the isolating person you are in contact with tells you that they are concerned that they are not going to see anyone for a long time, please recognise their concerns and let them know that you are here to listen to them, encouraging them to avail of this. If the isolating person tells you that they would like to hear from you more often, and you are not able to do so, please let them know that you are enjoying the calls as well but that you are unable to call more frequently. Should they need to have more frequent calls, please suggest that they contact another volunteer to check on them apart from you as that way they will also get more human interaction. If you suspect the individual could benefit from help, or is in trouble, please report the matter to the relevant authorities.
Communicating with a person living with poor mental health
You may be in contact with someone who is living with poor mental health – 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year and just simply checking on them and having regular calls can be very helpful. You may not be aware of an individual’s mental health and this may not even be discussed during your conversation. Please always talk to everyone in a non-judgemental manner and be respectful. Ask questions to gather information about how the person is feeling, listen without interrupting and repeat what has been said to check you have understood. Ask open questions – What, where, when, why, how? . Show someone you understand by telling them and show empathy. Please don’t make judgements about what you’re told. If there are any indications that an isolating person is depressed and suicidal or might harm themselves in any way, please contact the relevant health professionals in your area and country and give the self-isolating person advice to call a mental health service dedicated to this. Most countries have helplines that have been established specially for dealing with mental health issues caused by the current situation with coronavirus.
Communicating with a person living with Dementia
Dementia can bring a lot of challenges on a daily basis for the person dealing with it and for those around them. The current situation with coronavirus is making the lives of people who are living with Dementia much more difficult. It might mean that these people are no longer able to take part in activities which supported them to live well and their families and carers might not be able to be around as much as they used to be.
It’s important to note that Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and similar symptoms can be brought on by depression. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain and does not just cause memory problems – it can affect anything and everything the brain controls, including mood and changes in behaviour. Dementia can make individuals forget details, but they will remember the feeling of reassurance and support provided by your call. This really will help to stop any negative feelings caused by isolation. If you are worried about the person you’re supporting and their memory, or if they inform you they are struggling with their Dementia or someone they care for with Dementia, please call the relevant health care professionals so they can help.
Having a Video/Phone Call
Before you agree on any form of help and maintaining contact we highly recommend you use a secure digital platform to get to call the other individual (we recommend video conferencing tools if possible otherwise a phone call). This is for everyone to feel comfortable and safe. Several video conference platforms like Zoom also have a free dial-in option by phone if that is more convenient for you.
You should schedule a call at a time that is convenient for both parties. The volunteers should take the lead and be in charge of setting up calls, checking on the individuals they are helping, creating video call links as well as explaining how to join the call/install the app or if there are any other questions, including how to mute/unmute themselves and turn their video on/off at the beginning of the call.
Having some questions prepared is always a good idea so you can clearly establish what the people looking for help need assistance with. Both parties should be respectful of each other.
If there are any problems, please leave the call. Please do not share any confidential information beyond what is needed to fulfill the help request.
When it comes to disinfection of items we recommend using disinfectant antibacterial wipes or sprays or bleach solutions. Disinfection with bleach should always be carried out in a well-ventilated space with windows open. Please be careful not to get bleach in contact with your bare skin or eyes. We recommend that you use kitchen gloves to protect yourself whilst mixing the solution. Please remember to change the gloves before you begin to clean the items. Always wash your hands with soap and water before beginning, following guidelines. If you are mixing the solution, please wash your hands with the gloves on first, then take them off and wash your hands again. When mixing the bleach, mix 1 part home bleach with 20 parts cold water and put it into a spray bottle, squirt bottle or open topped container(*see disclaimer below). Wipe down the outside of the packaging you intend to use with the bleach solution and leave it for 10 minutes. If the item has not dried or is still slightly wet to the touch after 10 minutes, please add more bleach to your solution or use more solution and try again. You will need to make a new bleach solution every 24 hours. Please make sure that your hair is not likely to fall into your face by tying it back before beginning to disinfect the items. Once you are ready to disinfect items, make sure you wash your hands first and put on a fresh pair of disposable gloves if possible. Disinfect the outer area of your gloves before disinfecting the items. Do not disinfect fruit, vegetables or anything that will be eaten directly with bleach. Wipe down a space to put disinfected items once you’ve wiped them down using a new cloth or one which has been washed at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius. Leave it for 10 minutes. Wipe down the surface of each item you need to disinfect and regularly put more bleach onto the cloth. Place each item on the disinfected surface. With freshly washed hands, place the items into a new or also disinfected plastic bag if needed. In case that you are wearing gloves and you have touched something else other than the disinfected items, you should wash your hands and put on a fresh pair.
Disinfect your sink and tap handles before washing items with water and soap. This should be done whenever bleach cannot be used or when there is no option to buy pre-packaged fruit, vegetables and other items to be consumed directly (you can disinfect the outer package in that way). Please start with cleaning each item or surface of visible dirt and wash your hands. Use a new cloth, or one which has been washed at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius, to thoroughly scrub down and clean the surface where you intend to leave things you’ve washed with soap and water. Wash your hands again, using a new cloth, or one which has been washed at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius, to thoroughly scrub each item on all surfaces and rinse it well with running water. Place the item you have just cleaned onto the area you have previously cleaned for this purpose. As before, do not talk or hold your mouth close to the items while doing this and tie your hair if necessary. With freshly washed hands, place the items into a new or freshly disinfected bag.
*DISCLAIMER: The World Health Organisation’s interim guidance on COVID-19 advise a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, giving a total active ingredient of 0.5% sodium hypochlorite when standard household bleach containing 5% sodium hypochlorite is used. This has now been updated to advise an active ingredient of 0.1% sodium hypochlorite, which would require standard household bleach to be diluted by 1:49 with water. However, manufacturers state that the sodium hypochlorite content of bleach degrades by 20% per year when stored, or faster if stored in warm temperatures. Since sodium hypochlorite concentrations lower than 0.1% are not fully effective against coronaviruses, we have therefore recommended a higher dilution to cover the possibility that people may be using bleach which is not fresh.
There is no adequately tested and widely recommended money disinfection method that can be done at home. As mentioned above, please use cash only if there are no other options. However, you should still always try to disinfect any paper notes, cheques and coins where possible to minimise the risk of an infection.
We suggest the following method: Please find a surface in your home that is not being used or interacted with, such as a window sill. Then disinfect the surface as per the “Disinfecting Things” guidelines above. Place the paper currency or coins on the surface and spray it with a disinfectant and leave it for a minimum of 2 hours and wash your hands after touching it. Remove the currency and disinfect the surface again. Place it into a new or disinfected bag and make sure that the areas that will be touched (the outside) of the bag are disinfected when you hand the money to a volunteer. If this is not possible, please place the money into a clean plastic bag, touching the money with the inside of the bag and disinfect the handles and any other area that might be touched. All of the transactions should be done as described previously above – leaving the bag at the front door, stepping back at least 1-2m and waiting for the other person to pick it up. Please let the other person know if the money was not disinfected. Please continue to wash your hands and clean any surface that the paper currency or coins come in contact with.
When wearing gloves, please keep in mind that if you touch something that is contaminated with the virus, your gloves can now transmit the virus to anything else you touch. So please take extra care when removing the gloves, making sure you don’t touch the outside. Please be even more cautious when delivering goods to a person that is immunocompromised.
Gloves should be worn during close contact with a person that is (potentially) infected with COVID-19 (though you should not be in contact with such people when volunteering), when touching something which has been touched by an infected person, during close contact with an immunocompromised or high-risk person or when touching something that an immunocompromised or high-risk person will touch. In cases of close contact with a person (potentially) infected with COVID-19 and touching something which an infected person has touched, please remove the gloves immediately afterwards and wash your hands as soon as possible. In cases of close contact with an immunocompromised or high-risk person and when touching something that an immunocompromised or high-risk person is supposed to touch, please put on a fresh pair of gloves immediately beforehand and sanitise your hands first. Please do not use your phone or touch anything that might be infected even with the gloves on as that can still potentially transfer the virus to an immunocompromised or high-risk person, as mentioned above.
Please wear gloves and follow the guidelines above when delivering goods to others as well, if possible. Gloves are an addition to hand hygiene but not an alternative by any means. Please wash or sanitise your hands prior to putting a pair of gloves on whenever possible and do so immediately after taking them off. Please do not touch anything that could transmit the virus to or from your gloved hands, so please try to avoid touching your phone, face etc.
In case you are wearing a mask, wash and sanitise your hands first, then put on the mask, wash and sanitise your hands again and then put the gloves on in order to prevent transmission of the virus from your gloved hands onto your face. When putting the gloves on, please only touch the cuff with your bare skin in order to avoid spreading the virus to the exterior of the glove.
When taking the gloves off, please do not touch the exterior with your bare skin at any cost. It is advised that you pinch the material of one glove near the wrist with the gloved fingers of your other hand. Pull the glove off your hand. Using your gloved hand only, crumple the glove you have removed into a ball and hold it in the palm of your gloved hand. Slide your bare fingers inside the wrist of your gloved hand. Use these to pull the glove off so that it turns inside out and encloses the balled-up glove and dispose of both of them Please see the photo below which demonstrates the recommended way of removing gloves.
How to remove gloves
We recommend that you place the contaminated gloves inside a sealed plastic bag. In case you have been in contact with an infected person, please try to leave this for at least 72 hours before putting it in a communal waste bin. In case you have used multiple pairs of gloves, it is recommended to label the bags with a marker pan to keep track of when you are supposed to dispose of which ones.
In case you are helping more than one person on the same day, please make sure that you are using a fresh pair of gloves for each person. Take extra precautions if the person you are helping is immunocompromised or at high risk.
For general care and first aid use you can use Nitrile gloves. Latex gloves can be used if both you and the person you are going to be in contact with don’t have a latex allergy. Vinyl gloves should be the last choice as they are more likely to leak. If you do not have any disposable gloves please focus on hand hygiene. Please do not offer any other form of help apart from remote (e.g. phone calls) if you intend to help an immunocompromised or high risk person and you do not have and cannot obtain suitable disposable gloves.
Please make sure that you always follow the latest hand hygiene guidance from the WHO and that you are doing everything you can to make sure that your hands are not transmitting infection from one person to another, from others to yourself and from contaminated areas to someone else or yourself.
You should practise hand hygiene as often as possible, but especially before and after touching your face, before and after touching something that is disinfected, before and after being in close contact with someone who might (potentially) be infected with COVID-19, before putting on PPE and after removing PPE, before and after (potential) contact with bodily fluids even if you are wearing gloves, before and after touching anything that an immunocompromised or high-risk person might touch and after touching anything in your surroundings.
Hand hygiene can be carried out in two ways: with hand sanitiser or with soap and water. The steps are the same whether you use hand sanitiser or water, except at the end. You can use bar soap or liquid soap with no difference in procedure. There is no need to use antibacterial soap to remove COVID-19 as any normal soap is considered equally effective.
1. If you are using soap and water, you should first set the tap running and leave it running.
2. Wet your hands and apply soap to them, until a foamy lather forms. If using alcohol hand sanitiser, apply enough to your hand to be able to coat all of your hands.
3. Rub your hands palm to palm, covering your hands and insides of the fingers completely.
4. Lay one hand on top of another, so that your palm rests on the back of your hand, and mesh your fingers together. Move your hands back and forwards to scrub them. Swap over after a couple of seconds, and scrub the other side of your hands.
5. Lay your hands out palm to palm, and mesh your fingers together, and scrub them together.
6. With one hand facing up and the other hand facing down, hook your fingers together, and rub the backs of your fingers along your palms.
7. Wrap one hand around the opposite thumb and twist several times, and repeat on the other thumb with the opposite hand.
8. Lay the tips of one hand against the opposite palm, and scrub them in circles for a few seconds. Swap and do the opposite hand.
9. Dry your hands:
– If you’re using hand sanitiser you should try to hold your hands in the air until they are dry.
– If you’re using soap and water you should use a disposable paper towel to dry your hands and then use that towel to turn the tap off.
Please take a look at the WHO’s guidance on hand hygiene for more information: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf
Keeping Safe – General Advice
Please try to wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water at regular intervals throughout the day, as described above. If running water and soap is not available, then try to ensure you have alcohol-based hand wipes or hand sanitiser to kill viruses that may be on your hands following the recommended procedure described above. Please avoid touching your face and keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth and nose to avoid the spread of any virus.
If you cough, use a tissue and dispose of the tissue immediately. If no tissue is available, cough into your arm. If you start coughing or having any other symptoms of COVID-19, please only volunteer to help virtually with calls etc. to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
Please follow your national social distancing guidelines by maintaining at least 1-2 metres distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This should be observed at all times and take into account the latest government guidelines. Please try to avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces. Also try to avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include a high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough If you feel unwell and have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, please seek medical attention and follow your government’s guidance whilst avoiding any contact with people who you could infect.
Driving and transportation
If you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries or other goods to support others who are impacted by Covid-19, please note that you should cover the expenses yourself. We recommend against using public transportation where possible. If you have no other travelling option please try to avoid rush hours and busy times if you can.
Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak – from the WHO
Please see the official WHO guidance here, which we have also pasted below: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_2
Messages for the general population
1. COVID-19 has and is likely to affect people from many countries, in many geographical locations. When referring to people with COVID-19, do not attach the disease to any particular ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to all those who are affected, in and from any country. People who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our support, compassion and kindness.
2. Do not refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or “the diseased”. They are “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”, and after recovering from COVID-19 their life will go on with their jobs, families and loved ones. It is important to separate a person from having an identity defined by COVID-19, in order to reduce stigma.
3. Minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources and mainly so that you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts; not rumours and misinformation. Gather information at regular intervals from the WHO website and local health authority platforms in order to help you distinguish facts from rumours. Facts can help to minimize fears.
4. Protect yourself and be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit both the person receiving support and the helper. For example, check by telephone on neighbours or people in your community who may need some extra assistance. Working together as one community can help to create solidarity in addressing COVID-19 together.
5. Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories and positive images of local people who have experienced COVID-19. For example, stories of people who have recovered or who have supported a loved one and are willing to share their experience.
6. Honour carers and healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19 in your community. Acknowledge the role they play in saving lives and keeping your loved ones safe.
Messages for healthcare workers
7. Feeling under pressure is a likely experience for you and many of your colleagues. It is quite normal to be feeling this way in the current situation. Stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak. Managing your mental health and psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as managing your physical health.
8. Take care of yourself at this time. Try and use helpful coping strategies such as ensuring sufficient rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat sufficient and healthy food, engage in physical activity, and stay in contact with family and friends. Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical well-being. The COVID-19 outbreak is a unique and unprecedented scenario for many workers, particularly if they have not been involved in similar responses. Even so, using strategies that have worked for you in the past to manage times of stress can benefit you now. You are the person most likely to know how you can de-stress and you should not be hesitant in keeping yourself psychologically well. This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
9. Some healthcare workers may unfortunately experience avoidance by their family or community owing to stigma or fear. This can make an already challenging situation far more difficult. If possible, staying connected with your loved ones, including through digital methods, is one way to maintain contact. Turn to your colleagues, your manager or other trusted persons for social support – your colleagues may be having similar experiences to you.
10. Use understandable ways to share messages with people with intellectual, cognitive and psychosocial disabilities. Where possible, include forms of communication that do not rely solely on written information.
11. Know how to provide support to people who are affected by COVID-19 and know how to link them with available resources. This is especially important for those who require mental health and psychosocial support. The stigma associated with mental health problems may cause reluctance to seek support for both COVID-19 and mental health conditions. The mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide includes clinical guidance for addressing priority mental health conditions and is designed for use by general healthcare workers.
Messages for team leaders or managers in health facilities
12. Keeping all staff protected from chronic stress and poor mental health during this response means that they will have a better capacity to fulfil their roles. Be sure to keep in mind that the current situation will not go away overnight and you should focus on longer-term occupational capacity rather than repeated short-term crisis responses.
13. Ensure that good quality communication and accurate information updates are provided to all staff. Rotate workers from higher-stress to lower-stress functions. Partner inexperienced workers with their more experienced colleagues. The buddy system helps to provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures. Ensure that outreach personnel enter the community in pairs. Initiate, encourage and monitor work breaks. Implement flexible schedules for workers who are directly impacted or have a family member affected by a stressful event. Ensure that you build in time for colleagues to provide social support to each other.
14. Ensure that staff are aware of where and how they can access mental health and psychosocial support services and facilitate access to such services. Managers and team leaders are facing similar stresses to their staff and may experience additional pressure relating to the responsibilities of their role. It is important that the above provisions and strategies are in place for both workers and managers, and that managers can be role-models for self-care strategies to mitigate stress.
15. Orient all responders, including nurses, ambulance drivers, volunteers, case identifiers, teachers and community leaders and workers in quarantine sites, on how to provide basic emotional and practical support to affected people using psychological first aid.
16. Manage urgent mental health and neurological complaints (e.g. delirium, psychosis, severe anxiety or depression) within emergency or general healthcare facilities. Appropriate trained and qualified staff may need to be deployed to these locations when time permits, and the capacity of general healthcare staff capacity to provide mental health and psychosocial support should be increased (see the mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide).
17. Ensure availability of essential, generic psychotropic medications at all levels of health care. People living with long-term mental health conditions or epileptic seizures will need uninterrupted access to their medication, and sudden discontinuation should be avoided.
Messages for carers of children
18. Help children find positive ways to express feelings such as fear and sadness. Every child has his or her own way of expressing emotions. Sometimes engaging in a creative activity, such as playing or drawing can facilitate this process. Children feel relieved if they can express and communicate their feelings in a safe and supportive environment.
19. Keep children close to their parents and family, if considered safe, and avoid separating children and their careers as much as possible. If a child needs to be separated from his or her primary carer, ensure that appropriate alternative care is provided and that a social worker or equivalent will regularly follow up on the child. Further, ensure that during periods of separation, regular contact with parents and carers is maintained, such as twice-daily scheduled telephone or video calls or other age-appropriate communication (e.g. social media).
20. Maintain familiar routines in daily life as much as possible, or create new routines, especially if children must stay at home. Provide engaging age-appropriate activities for children, including activities for their learning. Where possible, encourage children to continue to play and socialize with others, even if only within the family when advised to restrict social contact.
21. During times of stress and crisis, it is common for children to seek more attachment and be more demanding on parents. Discuss COVID-19 with your children in an honest and age-appropriate way. If your children have concerns, addressing them together may ease their anxiety. Children will observe adults’ behaviours and emotions for cues on how to manage their own emotions during difficult times. Additional advice is available here.
Messages for older adults, people with underlying health conditions and their carers
22. Older adults, especially in isolation and those with cognitive decline/dementia, may become more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated and withdrawn during the outbreak or while in quarantine. Provide practical and emotional support through informal networks (families) and health professionals.
23. Share simple facts about what is going on and give clear information about how to reduce risk of infection in words older people with/without cognitive impairment can understand. Repeat the information whenever necessary. Instructions need to be communicated in a clear, concise, respectful and patient way. It may also be helpful for information to be displayed in writing or pictures. Engage family members and other support networks in providing information and helping people to practise prevention measures (e.g. handwashing, etc.).
24. If you have an underlying health condition, make sure to have access to any medications that you are currently using. Activate your social contacts to provide you with assistance, if needed.
25. Be prepared and know in advance where and how to get practical help if needed, like calling a taxi, having food delivered and requesting medical care. Make sure you have up to two weeks of all your regular medicines that you may require.
26. Learn simple daily physical exercises to perform at home, in quarantine or isolation so you can maintain mobility and reduce boredom.
27. Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible or help create new ones in a new environment, including regular exercising, cleaning, daily chores, singing, painting or other activities. Keep in regular contact with loved ones (e.g. via telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference). Messages for people in isolation
28. Stay connected and maintain your social networks. Try as much as possible to keep your personal daily routines or create new routines if circumstances change. If health authorities have recommended limiting your physical social contact to contain the outbreak, you can stay connected via telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference.
29. During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective. Public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the availability of the best care to those affected 30. A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day from health professionals and WHO website and avoid listening to or following rumours that make you feel uncomfortable.
Please keep yourself up to date with the latest developments and advice from governments and the WHO.
Find the latest information from WHO on where COVID-19 is spreading: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/ Advice
and guidance from WHO on COVID-19 : https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 https://www.epi-win.com/
Briefing note on addressing mental health and psychosocial aspects of COVID-19: https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/other/interim-briefing-note-addressing-mental-health-andpsychosocial-aspects-covid-19-outbreak”
As we noted at the start, the safety of volunteers and the people and organisations they are helping is of the utmost importance to us and we take it very seriously. We have tried to be as comprehensive as possible above but at all times, please try to stay informed, keep an eye on and adhere to the latest guidance from your country’s government and the WHO. If someone is misusing the platform, please report them. You can do so by clicking the report button on your dashboard page and by filling in the information requested. The case will then be investigated and reported to relevant authorities if necessary. We have a strict no tolerance policy with regards to breaches of the guidelines below and will remove anyone from the platform who demonstrates misconduct. If you follow the steps above and behave responsibly you can help minimise risks and make sure you do not contribute to the spread of the virus or cause any harm to yourself and others.