Living with COVID-19: protecting staff, volunteers and the public

Take a look at the steps you can take to protect staff, volunteers, the public and our brand.

Last updated

We updated this guidance on 03 March 2022.

From 24 February 2022 the Government has removed the remaining legal restrictions designed to help limit the spread of COVID-19. As you continue to return to offices and restart face-to-face engagement, this guidance sets out the steps you can take to keep protecting staff, volunteers and the public, while also protecting our brand. It contains the principles of the Government’s COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 guidance.

Office working   

You should continue to follow the Government’s Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance to keep yourself and others safe.   

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced advice for workplaces to help you protect people at work and continue to keep workplaces safe.

HSE has also produced guidance on managing risks and risk assessment at work to help you decide what reasonable steps you need to protect your staff and others.

Face-to-face engagement  

Although the Government has removed the remaining legal restrictions, we still live in an environment where COVID-19 transmission rates could rise, new local outbreaks could occur, and national and local guidance could change.

Local Healthwatch providers, like all organisations, have a duty of care to your staff, volunteers and the public you engage. It is important that you continue to do all you can to protect the Healthwatch brand and maintain the trust of your communities.   

You should follow the principles set out in the Government’s COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 guidance. This states that there are safer behaviours you can adopt to reduce the risk of infection, including wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, when rates of transmission are high.  

When it comes to staff and volunteers attending external events and meetings in person, we would advise that you request to see the risk assessment carried out by the organiser to ensure that you are confident your staff and volunteers will be protected.     

We would strongly advise that you continue to carry out a risk assessment prior to undertaking any new face-to-face engagement activities.  

Local Healthwatch is legally required to consider how your policies and decisions affect people who are protected under the Equalities Act. It’s important therefore to think about how you can remove or minimise barriers that might prevent people from accessing the local Healthwatch service or getting involved in your work.   

You are already required to publish the process you use to make decisions about your work. However, we would advise updating your policy to clarify to staff, volunteers, partners and the public your process for approving face-to-face activity. Take a look at our decision making policy guidance for more information. 

Vaccination status

From 15 March 2022, people visiting an adult care home in a professional capacity will  no longer required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, it’s a good idea to continue to encourage staff and volunteers to get vaccinated if the NHS recommends that they do so. It is also important to continue to be sensitive to the concerns that the public may have about engaging with people who are not vaccinated. 

Other useful guidance