Frequently asked questions about the Volunteer Driver Service

What is the Irish Cancer Society Volunteer Driver Service?

The Volunteer Driver Service is a volunteer-delivered transport service whereby the Irish Cancer Society recruits, trains, Garda vets and reference checks volunteers to drive patients to and from their chemotherapy treatments. 

We also offer two boundaried services for patients undergoing radiotherapy treatments who are staying for the full week (Monday to Friday) in Inis Aoibhinn in Galway University Hospital (for patients from Donegal who are in need of transport on a Monday morning to Inis Aoibhinn and home again on a Friday afternoon) and in The Lodge at St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin (for patients that need to be transported to the various transport hubs in Dublin to travel home on a Friday afternoon). 

Frequently asked questions about the Volunteer Driver Service for patients

Do I have to pay for the service?

No, the service is free to both the patient and the hospital with the Irish Cancer Society incurring all costs.

Does the Volunteer Driver Service facilitate all types of cancer and treatment?

No, the the Volunteer Driver Service service only accommodates patients undergoing chemotherapy in one of our sixteen partner hospitals or who are attending for radiotherapy in Galway University Hospital (patients from Donegal who are staying for the full week in Inis Aoibhinn) or in The Lodge in St. Luke’s, Rathgar (patients are transported on a Friday afternoon to the various transport hubs in Dublin to travel home). 

What happens when a patient is referred to the service?

A patient who is referred to the service becomes a client of the Volunteer Driver Service programme. The client then receives a welcome pack from the Volunteer Driver Service team and we make contact to confirm first date of appointment. It is then up to the client to contact us regarding all subsequent appointments.

Once an appointment has been made, a driver is sourced from our database (this is done mainly by geographic proximity to the client). The driver is then given the details of the clients and they call them two working days before the appointment to re-confirm details.

The driver then arrives at the agreed time, picks the patient up and drops them to the hospital door. The patient attends the hospital for treatment and, when they are ready to go home, they call the driver who then goes back to the hospital to collect them. The driver drops the patient home. 

As a patient, how do I apply to become a client of the Volunteer Driver Service?

To apply for the Volunteer Driver Service you must be referred by a healthcare professional (social worker or oncology nurse) in one of our partner hospitals.

Does the driver have many details about the client? Will they know the type of cancer I have? 

The driver has the information needed to do the drive – namely, the driver will know that the client is on the service because they are undergoing treatment; the driver will also have their name, address and contact mobile number. The only other information that the driver will have is whether a client needs assistance getting in and out of the car. In that case a companion needs to accompany the client as the driver cannot lift or handle the client in any way.

How many clients will be in the driver's car at one time? Will I have to wait for the last person to be finished treatment before I can go home?

No, the service is one-on-one. There is one client in the car with the driver - no one else. The only time another person would be in the car is when the client brings a companion - sometimes a client will bring a companion with them for physical or emotional support. 

Which hospitals have the Volunteer Driver Service available? 

The Volunteer Driver Service is expanding to new hospitals all the time. As of October  2015, the Volunteer Driver Service is available in 16 hospitals around Ireland, with the service set to be continuously rolled out over the coming years . Follow this link for the full list of hospitals in which the Volunteer Driver Service is currently available

Who can apply for the service? 

There are a number of reasons why people might need the Volunteer Driver Service:

  • Patients are living on their own with little or no immediate family support.  
  • The patient's family is not in the immediate vicinity.  
  • The patient's family cannot take time off work to bring them to and from the hospital (since the start of the recession, people were often afraid to take time off work).
  • Patients are elderly and cannot drive (and their spouse cannot drive).
  • The treatment is too aggressive and the patient has been advised not to drive.

Frequently asked questions about the Volunteer Driver Service for volunteer drivers or those interested in volunteering

As a volunteer, how do I apply for the service?

Contact the Volunteer Driver Service at the Irish Cancer Society by calling Rebecca on 01 231 6642 and we will send you an application form. The requirements of the volunteer role is that you must have a valid email address,commit to volunteering for two days a month (Mon-Fri) and you must keep those days as free as possible as treatment times can vary hugely.

Are volunteers vetted? 

Yes, volunteers are interviewed, trained, garda checked, reference checked and their documentation is collected (driving licence, NCT, etc). There are also asked to attend three support and supervision sessions on an annual basis. We are in constant communication with our volunteers to ensure that we deliver the best service we can.

Are expenses paid?

We offer to pay all fuel costs, road tolls and we offer €8 towards subsistence.

What happens if the client requires assistance getting in/out of the car?

If the client requires assistance getting in and out of the car, they will need to bring a companion with them. The drivers are not trained in manual handling and so are not permitted to lift a client. 

As a driver, how long will I have to wait for the client's treatment to be completed? 

Treatment times can vary hugely. As a driver we ask that you keep that day as flexible as possible and that you make plans to keep yourself occupied while the client is receiving  treatment. You could visit relations or friends, go shopping or play nine holes of golf!

Do I get many calls a month? I have other volunteer activities that I’m involved in

We ask that drivers give us their availability on their application form (eg. every second Thursday, fully flexible etc). We will then call you at these times to ask if you are available for a drive. As drivers are not partnered to a patient and do not follow a particular patient's treatment schedule, drivers dictate their availability to us and not the other way around.  

Frequently asked questions about the Volunteer Driver Service for hospitals

We are a hospital that is interested in offering this service. How do we go about it?

We partner with a number of hospitals every year to roll out the service. If a hospital is interested in applying then they must contact Gail on 01 2310 566 or email

What criteria does the hospital have to have to be eligible? 

Each hospital is different and we look at all hospitals on an individual basis. The  Volunteer Driver Service  is free to both the hospital and the patient. All patient referrals must come from our partner hospitals so we ask that they sign an agreement to ensure the fluidity of this process. 

Need more information about the Volunteer Driver Service? Visit our Volunteer Driver Service landing page or call the Volunteer Driver Service team on 01 2310 522.

Date Last Revised: 
Monday, November 9, 2015