We find out from Swansea County Voluntary Service (SCVS) how they organised volunteers to make sure residents got the medication they needed during the COVID-19 crisis.
Under normal circumstances pharmacies throughout Swansea offer a prescription delivery service for those unable to collect these for themselves. With so many people shielding during the lockdown, pharmacies became overwhelmed and unable to meet the demand for home deliveries of their prescriptions.
Swansea Council for Voluntary Services (SCVS) agreed to help by involving volunteers who had previously registered on the www.volunteering-wales.net website and were known to SCVS, and new volunteers who had some experience in health and care.
Swansea University volunteering organisation, Discovery, helped by processing DBS checks, as they already had experience of doing this remotely.
New systems were developed for interviewing, checking and safeguarding volunteers so that large numbers could be processed quickly.
Volunteers were supplied with a name badge, hand sanitiser, gloves, face covering and instructions on keeping safe and observing social distancing.
Delivery requests were made using a pre-existing referral system based on GP cluster areas. SCVS staff received the requests and allocated them to individual volunteers.
About 900 deliveries have been made, with 45 volunteers active or in the process of becoming so.
Volunteers are in close contact with SCVS staff so that any issues can be quickly attended to.
There were issues with prescriptions not being available, for example, or with items missing and communication with the patient and the pharmacy was needed until this could be rectified.
Sometimes safeguarding concerns were reported and further support could then be put in place, such as linking with a volunteer to provide telephone befriending, support to access food and essentials or signposting to other local authority or third sector provision.
Charlotte, from SCVS says ‘the doorstep contact has been crucial in keeping households safe when other agencies have either ceased or reduced their input’.
A volunteer said ‘Already being a volunteer for SCVS for two years and being furloughed from work during this period, I wanted to try and do something to help my community. Not only to keep myself busy and give myself a break from the monotony of staying at home, but for my mental health and to help others.
‘It has been rewarding to pick up prescriptions for others, saving them putting themselves at risk or queuing for long periods of time. Then to drop them off, knowing that they now have the medication that is vital for them and to see how grateful they are for the service I have provided.
‘One lady even said I was an angel, which really moved me, I even cried when I went home and told my children, who are very proud of me.’