- 3 min read
NHS York and Scarborough : A volunteer services team ready to scale
We had the pleasure of chatting to Lauren - a Volunteer Services Manager. Together with her incredibly small team in the acute care trust of York and Scarborough, they head up some 400 NHS Volunteers. Lauren’s team are described as ‘gatekeepers of the service’ and are responsible for supporting eight hospitals and six community hospitals across the region with more than 45 different volunteer roles within a clinical setting.
The small things
Volunteers are crucial to the NHS’s plan for the future of health care, as supporters of skilled staff, not as substitutes for them. Whilst volunteers have been able to help staff to navigate the recent unprecedented territory surrounding Covid-19, they also continue to support NHS teams in being present as friendly faces on reception desks, a helping hand on the ward and to improve the care provided to patients. Lauren talks about “the small things” a lot. The things that matter most when patients are down or lonely. The interaction over a fresh cup of hot tea, the game of cards, the ‘Facetime’ to loved ones or a listening ear.
From surviving to thriving
It was safe to say that the Volunteer Services team were at capacity before the introduction of Assemble. There was a ‘generic’ charity CRM system that they had inherited, which was compared to an outdated spreadsheet. The ability to collaborate was impossible and a frustrating, time-consuming way to work with teammates, especially in such a fast-moving and busy department. It simply wasn’t up to the job.
The capabilities of the Volunteer Services team were being hindered by archaic technology. The department was ‘surviving, not thriving’, which did not support plans to grow volunteer numbers and increase impact within the trust. Valuable time was being given to manual processes, such as collating and managing data, updating records, team communications and rotas.
Given the multiple site locations, teams and roles that the Volunteer Services department work across, the requirement for a software that could sort and manage data quickly was a priority. The solution would also need to be scalable, user-friendly and provide the ability to easily schedule and communicate with volunteers.
After looking at other some of the other available options on the market, Assemble was the best fit. The software provided a number of comprehensive features that met the needs of the Volunteer Service team and reflected their multi-faceted structure as well as the requirement to support requests of the trust quickly and have the ability to report and measure impact.
The adoption of Assemble involved transferring much of the old data across. At this point it was evident that many of the volunteer profiles were out of date or missing information. This was the first step towards cleaning up volunteer profiles and provided a great foundation to build upon. In time, this would enable the Volunteer Services team to filter and sort volunteer data quickly, fulfilling support requests with ease.
Covid-19 and Vaccination programme
In December 2020 the NHS began its biggest vaccine campaign to date in a bid to protect against the effects of Covid-19. The York and Scarborough Volunteer Services team were called upon to support vaccine clinics in the early part of the programme for NHS staff and volunteers. The task involved coordinating the volunteer support of multiple centres across the region that would run 12-hour clinics, 7 days a week and were responsible for 14,000 doses of the vaccine.
The volunteer services team managed to facilitate this within just 3 days by using Assemble’s Rota feature. This administrative feat would simply not have been possible with the previous software. The feature offered many benefits, from the simplicity of the drag and drop functionality, to collaborating in real-time, but the icing on the cake was that volunteers had the ability to view their shifts, switch shifts and communicate easily with their managers.
Analytics play an integral role in facilitating many types of support requests. Assemble generates rich reports in a matter of minutes that may have previously taken many hours of manual process and guesswork. This data not only reflects volunteer impact throughout the trust, but helps in resourcing repeat shifts, special ad-hoc projects or critical support in times of need.
Lauren comments, “Reports can now be created in the click of a button and presented quickly and easily which has been such a gamechanger. Having immediate access to volunteer profiles along with skills, locations and availability makes mobilising teams far more efficient.”
Return on investment
Prior to the introduction of Assemble, accuracy around volunteer contributions was non-existent. In theory it was possible to request and collate timesheets, but with so many volunteers across multiple sites, chasing down precise volunteer hours with any certainty was an impossibility and yet another strain on valuable time and resource.
Assemble’s reporting features have given so much more clarity around how and where volunteer time is being spent. Volunteer contributions are projected at the equivalent value of £1m for the York and Scarborough NHS trust in one year and since this data has never previously been measured it has set a new benchmark for the team.
Now, with some firmly established processes in place, Assemble has improved efficiencies within Volunteer Services team and enabled them to redirect time into their plans for further expansion of the department.