Update for Irish Cancer Society volunteers on coronavirus
Last Reviewed: 24 February
Volunteers perform a number of vital functions that support cancer patients both directly and indirectly, and their dedication and commitment is always most appreciated.
The Irish Cancer Society typically relies on volunteers to carry out a range of functions, from helping at Daffodil Centres, supporting survivors and driving patients to appointments, to fundraising and volunteering in Irish Cancer Society shops and warehouses.
Changes to volunteer services
As a result of the infection prevention controls now in place at many hospitals nationwide, hospital-based Daffodil Centre volunteers have been requested not to attend for their shifts until further notice.
No church gate collections are currently taking place.
Irish Cancer Society Charity Shops will close from 31 December in line with current public health restrictions.
The health and safety of our volunteers, staff, customers and service users is our top priority.
Those who are in the very high risk category are asked not to engage in face-to-face volunteering with the Society at this time until Government guidelines change. Current guidelines recommend that people in the very high risk category cocoon. Click here to find out more about risk categories.
The Irish Cancer Society deeply values the contribution that volunteers make, and looks forward to welcoming any applications from those currently cocooning for face-to-face volunteering opportunities in future when guidance and risk circumstances change.
If you or anyone you know is looking for a chance to help support those affected by cancer, and are able to do so in line with public health guidance, you can help to make sure we always have enough volunteers by finding out more and applying for a role here.
The Irish Cancer Society has received confirmation from the National Cancer Control Programme that our Volunteer Drivers can continue to transport patients for their chemotherapy appointments.
Volunteer Drivers should continue to strictly observe general precautions around coronavirus, along with advice on cocooning for people over 70 years of age and those who are extremely medically vulnerable. More information on cocooning and groups defined as being extremely medically vulnerable can be accessed by clicking here.
Volunteer Drivers taking cancer patients to hospital appointments cannot enter hospital buildings with patients at this time in line with restrictions on all visitors. Patients requiring transport to appointments have temporarily been requested not to bring companions as a further measure to aid infection prevention.
Due to the close confines of car travel, in order to maximise protection for cancer patients whose immune systems are vulnerable it is recommended that any Volunteer Drivers displaying any symptoms or illness, or who have recently travelled internationally should also temporarily remove themselves from the roster for a period of 14 days after returning.
Volunteers who are showing symptoms of illness associated with coronavirus should:
- Isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room, with a phone. Anyone else in the same household should restrict their outside movements.
- Phone their GP who can organise for a coronavirus test if needed
- In a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999
Anyone who has recently travelled internationally or who has been in close contact with a person diagnosed or suspected of having coronavirus or is showing symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever)
Close contact means either:
- Face-to-face contact
- Spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person
- Living in the same house as an infected person
Presenting at emergency departments is NOT recommended due to the high likelihood of coming into contact with other infections in such areas, as well as the possibility of an infection being transmitted to other people who are unwell or medical staff.
The Irish Cancer Society is continuing to monitor the situation as it develops, and will keep volunteers informed of any further steps to be taken that may affect them.
Ways in which people can protect themselves and others from coronavirus (Covid-19) infection while volunteering include:
- Wear face coverings and leave some distance between yourself and other people, particularly where it is necessary to be outside the home and with anyone who is coughing, sneezing or who has a fever. Avoid unnecessary close contact including handshakes.
- Regular and thorough hand washing with common soap and warm water and use of alcohol-based hand washes, especially:
- when in contact with other people
- before eating or touching your face
- after using the bathroom
- upon entering the home
- Those around a cancer patient should practice good respiratory hygiene by:
- covering your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing
- discarding used tissues immediately into a closed bin, and cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands as this can transfer the virus from surfaces.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Cancer patients themselves are very aware of the need to follow these steps to minimise the possibility of passing on infections given this group is particularly susceptible to illness, and receive regular instruction on this at their clinics.
Ireland is currently at Level 5 of the Government’s Plan for Living with Covid-19, with the following restrictions effective until 5 April:
- No social visits to other households or gardens, with the exception of a ‘support bubble’ for people at risk of isolation, including people living with shared custody arrangements and those living alone or with a partner with dementia. They can nominate one other household with whom they can mix. Close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases or anyone with symptoms of illness should continue to isolate as per public health guidelines
- People should work from home unless providing an essential service for which your presence is required on-site
- No travel beyond a 5km radius from home, except for essential provisions, care and medical appointments.
You can still help
Now more than ever those affected by cancer who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus need help from the wider community.
A kind act like helping with shopping or calling someone who is isolating for a chat can make a big difference.
Please remember to always wash hands and take the necessary precautions whenever you are dealing with someone in a vulnerable group, and avoid entering their home except where absolutely necessary.
Information on coronavirus for volunteers can be found at the following webpages:
- HSE - Volunteers who work with cancer patients
- National Cancer Control Programme brochure: Additional advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19) for cancer patients currently on treatment
- Information on health, education and employment is available on the Citizens Information website: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/health/covid19_overview.html#l97a70
- For details on global travel information please see https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/coronavirus/ or download the Department’s Travelwise app https://www.dfa.ie/travelwise/.
For more information
1800 200 700