I have recently been approached by a group wishing to clarify the position regarding health questionnaires and volunteers. Staff at the project currently need to complete one, but should volunteers?
Could anyone clarify if completing a questionnaire is/is not appropriate please? If so, should it be the same form as paid staff or a different one?
I was concerned to read this email about volunteers and medical questionnaires. I thought I remembered such a topic being discussed by the group a few years ago?
Surely what is relevant to a volunteer and his or her volunteering placement is whether he / she has a medical or health problem that might be affected by the volunteering activity? A full medical questionnaire could be taken to be intrusive (and a real barrier to volunteering) unless there is a real ‘need to know’.
It all comes down to having a duty of care to the volunteer to ensure that he or she isn’t adversely affected by any volunteering activity he or she is doing. This is really basic volunteer care and any risks should be pinpointed by a proper risk assessment of activities. I use examples of matching a volunteer befriender with chest problems/ asthma with a client who smokes heavily or has a houseful of furry pets Or/ having a volunteer with heart or back problems involved in activities such as moving furniture or visiting a client who lives several floors up a housing block Or/ having volunteers deal with stressful placement that could affect the volunteer without arranging for regular, specialist support.
When arranging a suitable placement, one method that I’ve used for ages is enquiring if the volunteer has a health problem that a project needs to be made aware of. This could be a volunteer who has epilepsy, or needs regular medication or be diabetic and need breaks to eat or inject insulin etc. This can then alert the project that should anyone be taken ill, they are aware of the condition and take suitable steps – including knowing who to contact on the volunteer’s behalf e.g. family member, partner, GP etc.
It’s useful for everyone if a project asks volunteers to fill in an ICE (In Case of Emergency”) form completed for each volunteer which is kept at their place of volunteering that’s updated as and when necessary. But a full medical questionnaire?