Staff and volunteers

Operating with reduced staffing levels

Staff ratios are in place to make sure people are safe. You should continue to use your usual risk assessment processes.

Where service users need to be moved because of staff shortages, please consider whether they can be moved to another placement within the same organisation.

Staff attendance and sick pay

Information about absence from work and how this should be certified is available in government guidance for business and employers.

Critical workers

The published guidance on continued access to education identified a list of key workers.

This list included those working in the health and social care sector as follows:

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

This guidance recognises care workers as critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

Key worker staff should ensure they carry work-issued passes when they are out of the home for work purposes. It may also be appropriate for the organisation to provide a standard letter to demonstrate proof of key worker.

The police have advised that it's acceptable to present a digital copy of the letter on your mobile phone - it doesn't have to be a printed copy.

Additional staffing and volunteers to support the workforce

If you require additional staff

Care providers can use the National Care Force free online platform to find volunteers to help with cooking, child care, driving, running errands and other such assistance, freeing up frontline staff to focus on immediate care.

Service providers can sign up to the platform to gain access to local volunteers now.

How it works for local authorities and social care providers:

  1. Sign up - care homes, home care services, charities, day centres and other social care providers can join
  2. Post opportunities - add what you need help with to the platform, receive applications from vetted volunteers
  3. Get help - accept volunteers for opportunities and receive the help needed

About the National Care Force

The National Care Force is a not-for-profit organisation set up by Florence in response to the impact of coronavirus on frontline social care. While the nation is focused on supporting our NHS, there are much more limited resources looking at social care, which we aim to remedy. 

Over 10,000 active volunteers and more than 1,000 care providers have joined the National Care Force already.

NHS Volunteer scheme


This platform will enable you to place a referral on behalf of an individual or your service as a whole where they would benefit from one of the four following volunteer roles:

  • Community Support such as shopping and medication delivery
  • Check in and chat
  • Patient transport
  • NHS transport

There are instructions which set out the details of each category.

Buckinghamshire Council directory

The community support directory may be able to offer someone to support with shopping or other tasks such as collecting prescriptions. You can search by type of help and location.


As a part of our business continuity planning, we are making sure staff are deployed to the greatest areas of need across all of our services.

We are reviewing staff skills and training to see where people can support frontline services. We are also looking at options for a volunteer workforce.

If you are a provider of care services and see opportunities to use volunteers, you should include this in your business continuity planning.

If you are using new staff or volunteers in roles that require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check but they do not have this in place, you should do a risk assessment to identify any concerns and consider what mitigations need to be in place before they start.