Information for volunteers
Guidance to volunteers on face-to-face volunteering
We continue to consider that people with MND are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, however, we also want to balance this against the individual wants and needs of people with MND and the benefits that meeting others has on quality of life.
In light of this, along with close consideration of government guidance and in consultation with our panel of clinical experts, our guidance on face to face volunteering is outlined below.
These guidelines emphasise our values of putting people with MND at the heart of what we do, of openness, respect, and collaboration. Our aim is that all people living with and affected by MND can receive support from the Association in a way that is comfortable and appropriate for them.
As a volunteer it is important that you feel comfortable and supported to carry out your volunteering activities in a safe environment.
Please take some time to read our guidance and check these web pages regularly as we will keep them up to date pending any changes in government or MND Association guidance.
Please do liaise with your Area Support Coordinator if you need guidance regarding the changes.
How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19
We advise you to wash your hands frequently whilst volunteering. If you are visiting people living with MND as part of your role we would ask that you wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. The NHS says that washing your hands is a key part of preventing the spread of viruses such as Coronavirus.
When volunteering for the MND Association, we would ask that you wear a face covering in enclosed environments where practical or in outdoor environments where social distancing is not possible. Please aim to minimise time indoors and where possible ensure effective ventilation by allowing fresh air inside.
An effective face covering must be worn when meeting in someone’s home. Ideally, this will be a single use surgical-type mask (which has not been used before) or a clean three-layer face covering. Face shields do not mitigate the airborne transmission of Covid so please avoid using them as a replacement for a face covering.
If you need to purchase face masks or hand sanitiser to attend meetings, please do so and you can be reimbursed through the expenses system.
When volunteering with the MND Association we would ask that wherever possible you maintain two meter distance from those you are supporting or volunteering with. Where this is not possible then you may decide to take extra precautions if this is practical such as the use of face coverings.
Covid-19 can be spread via particles of the virus suspended in the air, this is known as airborne transmission. The risk of being infected in this way reduces in environments where fresh air regularly circulates or outdoor environments which disperse the virus more easily.
Minimising the number of different people you meet, and the duration of meetings is another way to reduce the risk of transmission.
If meeting someone indoors, as much as possible, keep a two meter distance and ensure that the room is well ventilated by opening windows. Opening your windows for just 10 minutes, or a small amount of time continuously where you can, makes a significant difference. This is particularly important before, during and after meeting people you do not live with indoors.
We know that the risk of transmission is greater indoors. The Association is asking that our Volunteers evaluate each potential home visit on a case-by-case basis to determine the best way to provide support to all involved.
If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, have lost your sense of taste or smell or feel unwell in any way please stay at home and do not volunteer face to face.
If you have had Covid-19 please do not resume face-to-face volunteering until after producing a negative lateral flow test result and you feel well enough to volunteer again.
We ask volunteers attending indoor home visits, support group meetings or a branch or group meetings (including AGMs) to please carry out a lateral flow test before attending.
From 1 April in England and Wales and 22 April in Northern Ireland the general population will no longer be able to access free lateral flow tests for Covid-19.
Lateral flow tests can be purchased from high street pharmacies. The cost of tests can be claimed through the MND Association expenses claim process.
Non Invasive Ventilation (NIV)
Non Invasive ventilation is an aerosol generating procedure and increases the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to others if an individual is infected with the virus. This is because NIV releases small airborne particles to the surrounding area. The risks are increased further indoors. We believe the guidance below is the best way of balancing the risks of transmission of Covid-19 with the need to ensure we are able to provide support to those using NIV an enable them to access our services.
It is now possible to visit people using NIV without referring to your Area Support Coordinator providing the individual is able to carry out a lateral flow test and receive a negative result within the 24 hours before a visit takes place. We recommend other safe behaviours continue to be followed such as opening doors and windows to allow for ventilation, maintaining social distancing and the use of face coverings and these behaviours are discussed using our checklist before visiting for the first time. If an individual using NIV is unable to carry out a lateral flow test for any reason please refer to your Area Support Coordinator for further support.
It is possible for people using NIV to attend indoor face to face support groups and branch or group meetings (including AGMs) providing they are able to carry out a lateral flow test and receive a negative result within 24 hours before the event takes place. We ask that other safe behaviours continue to be followed, including asking all those attending to carry out a lateral flow test and for pre-information to include recommended safe behaviours. Please include all of these measures in the risk assessment for the event and share this with your Area Support Coordinator ahead of it taking place. If an individual using NIV is unable to carry out a lateral flow test for any reason please refer to your Area Support Coordinator for further support.
It is our intention that users of NIV are not left out-of-pocket for the purchase of tests so we would ask that branches and groups consider how these might be provided for those attending events or ahead of visits. IT may be that the branch or group holds a small stock of tests and gives these to attendees at events ahead of their planned visit to the next one or they are passed on in a similar way at home visits.
We know the risks of transmission are reduced outdoors, but we ask volunteers to continue to follow safe behaviours to reduce the risk of transmission and complete a risk assessment ahead of events and meetings or visit checklist ahead of outdoor visits.
Please communicate with individuals you are supporting to discuss if anyone involved would like additional measures to be taken.
Volunteering indoors in public venues
We know the risks of transmission indoors are higher than that of meeting others outdoors. We ask that volunteers continue to follow safe behaviours when planning meetings or events indoors.
Covid-19 can be spread via particles of the virus suspended in the air; this is known as airborne transmission. The risk of being infected in this way is increased if spending long periods of time indoors, particularly if fresh air is not circulated.
When planning an event in an indoor venue please ensure that there is adequate ventilation. In most venues, this will mean that it is possible to open doors and windows for fresh air to circulate. Some air conditioning systems also regularly circulate fresh air.
When planning a meeting or event in a public venue a risk assessment must be carried out which considers the risks, including the transmission of Coronavirus. Please share this risk assessment with your Area Support Coordinator in advance of the event.
As Non Invasive Ventilation is an aerosol-generating procedure that has been demonstrated to increase the risk of transmission of Covid-19, we request that extra care is taken when planning events. In the instance an indoor face-to-face event is arranged, whether this is an MND Association event, support meeting or Branch/Group meeting, we ask that extra caution is taken to ensure we keep people with MND, volunteers and staff safe and reduce the risks posed by the use of NIV in an indoor setting.
If people using NIV wish to participate in an event, please ask them to carry out a lateral flow test before attending. If this test is positive, they must not attend.
Should there be any challenges with taking a test beforehand, please escalate this to your Area Support Coordinator for further support and guidance.
Volunteering in peoples homes
It is possible to meet with others, including those living with, and affected by MND in a private home.
All visits to people living with MND should be at their request, or via a third party acting on their behalf. We ask that you discuss the available support options with the person you are due to meet indoors and agree on the best option for them. This may include virtual or remote support or meeting outside.
If a person affected by MND specifically requests a meeting indoors, or at home, it is important you know how to manage the risk to yourself as a volunteer and to those you’re meeting. This can be done by using our support volunteer checklist and following our outlined ‘Safe Behaviours’.
If you have a request for a face-to-face visit from an individual who is using Non-Invasive Ventilation, please seek support from your Area Support Coordinator before agreeing to a visit.
Please read the safe behaviours above, make sure you understand the guidance and consider it as part of the risk assessment process for the meeting.
Before the meeting, please speak to the person who you are meeting and go through the Support Volunteer Checklist.
The checklist will help you ensure that everyone is comfortable with the visit taking place and understands the measures you will take to keep everyone safe.
You do not need to fill in or store the checklist but please take time to discuss the points it contains – it is designed to support you to carry out conversations with those you will be supporting.
What should I do if a person with MND requests an indoor visit, but I am uncomfortable entering their home?
If you do not feel comfortable with the arrangements in place, you should speak to your Area Support Coordinator and arrange to provide support through an alternative means.
This could mean either meeting outdoors, using the telephone, or meeting them virtually.
Planning or attending a face-to-face meeting or event
We would ask that where a face-to-face meeting does take place, that MND Association recommended safe behaviours are followed.
If people using Non Invasive Ventilation are likely to need to attend, please request they carry out a lateral flow test beforehand. If a positive result is produced, we ask that they do not attend the meeting.
Please carry out a risk assessment for all events and meetings and share this with your Area Support Coordinator ahead of the event taking place.
What do I need to consider when selecting a venue for an indoor meeting or event?
We’ve created a tool to help you assess potential venues – this includes identifying the risks associated with Covid and how best to mitigate them, along with accessibility requirements that should be taken into consideration. Please click below to access.
Fundraising for the MND Association
Yes, providing you are satisfied the activity can take place safely following MND Association safe behaviours.
Yes, it is important that events that must take place face-to-face are carried out in a safe way and the fundraising regulator asks for fundraising activities to be risk assessed to inform decisions around safety and for this risk assessment to be shared with your Area Support Co-ordinator or Regional Fundraiser ahead of the activity taking place.
You can find materials to support you with this activity below and if you need further help or support speak to your Area Support Coordinator or Regional Fundraiser.
No, but we would ask that if you are a registered volunteer planning a fundraising activity, or are fundraising as part of a branch or group activity, you make your Regional Fundraiser aware of your plans and share your completed risk assessment ahead of the activity taking place.
Campaigning for the MND Association
Yes, as long as MND Association safe behaviours are followed.
Many of our campaigning activities can continue to take place virtually. Where meeting with others is required to take place indoors, MND Association requests all attendees adhere to the safe behaviours and carry out a lateral flow test before attending.