Volunteer drivers join Age UK service to transport patients Home from Hospital

Volunteer Isobel Riley behind the wheel. Photograph: City of York Council

City of York Council volunteers are working with Age UK to drive discharged hospital patients safely back home during the coronavirus emergency.

To help relieve pressure on the emergency services, 25 volunteers from the council’s pool of volunteers who matched Age UK’s criteria have been deployed to join the charity’s Home from Hospital service and their existing two volunteer drivers.

All volunteer drivers are being trained by Age UK on safeguarding and data protection, and their cars are appropriately insured.

The council has provided them with phones to ensure good communication between them, the charity and hospital.

Suitably experienced volunteers with no underlying health conditions and who aren’t medically-shielding, can opt to transport patients who have had Covid-19.

They will use personal protection equipment (PPE) and extra hygiene measures which follow Government guidelines. This includes drivers using 1,800 disposable plastic car seat covers kindly donated by garages Stoneacre Ford York, Vantage Toyota York, Butts of Bawtry and Fulford Auto Services.

Help them settle in

The committed group of council volunteers drive discharged patients home from hospital to addresses across the hospital’s catchment area.

Having driven them home, the volunteers check that the patients have food and, if not, buy some.

Depending on their needs and to help them settle safely back home, they can also link them to their local authority for care, support from other volunteers or help with benefits.

One of the 25 council volunteers, Isobel Riley works part time as a nurse at York Hospital and in her spare time also volunteers with Age UK as a befriender. “I’m one of many people to volunteer because we want to help. I’d usually be helping with my grandchildren or spending time with the family so at the moment I’ve got time on my hands.

“I volunteered with Home from Hospital because I use the service at work and I know I’d enjoy it. I’m used to working with patients and the hospital and I’m happy to be involved with what I know is a good service.”