PSS Communication Guidance
Linked to: Lone Working Policy; Confidentiality Policy; Boundaries Guidance; Request for Support Forms; Needs and Risk Assessment Form; HG Ireland Support Leaflet
This document aims to provide guidance to Staff, Volunteer Supporters (VS) and Trustees about how they communicate with women we are supporting.
Initial Contact for Support
Initial contacts from women and their carers are received via the HG Ireland website, face book page and support@ address. The charity aims for these contacts to be responded to within a 24-hour period (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays) although it may take up to 48 hours. Any of these contacts received by people other than the Support Coordinator (SC) which are then deemed to require further support will be passed to the SC as soon as possible and within a 48-hour period.
The SC will contact the woman requesting support to establish some further details which will be fed into a needs and risk assessment form. This will be done as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours but it may take up to 48 hours (excluding weekends and bank holidays)
The SC will then match this woman with a VS who lives in the same region. Contact the VS to talk through the woman’s case and establish that the VSW is in a good position to support this woman.
Once a VS has been sent the details (needs and risk assessment form) of the woman she will be supporting it is her responsibility to establish the initial contact with the woman within the next 48 hours where possible.
If for some reason this is not possible please inform the Support Coordinator.
Any concerns or queries regarding the support of this woman must be brought to the attention of the SC or Chair who will provide the VS with support and supervision.
VS are responsible for contacting the SC every month to update them about work being undertaken.
Regular telephone support sessions will be determined by the women’s needs. Due to the nature of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) many women many not want to talk on the telephone on a regular basis.
In no circumstances should HG Ireland Volunteers Supporters, Staff or Trustees give women who they are supporting their personal details to include home address or home telephone number.
If Volunteer Supporters or Staff are calling service users from their own telephones they should dial 141 prior to dialling to withhold their number.
Use of Mobiles and Text
We encourage the use of mobile phones for support. If you feel uncomfortable with using your own phone number then pay as you go phones are widely and cheaply available for the purpose of providing support. HG Ireland is unable to provide mobile phones for this purpose.
Text messaging is often preferred by sufferers of NVP and HG and can allow for more flexibility while supporting women.
Texts received from women using our support services will be responded to within a 24-hour period (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays).
If you are unable to respond to a service user within 24 hours due to network problems or a lost or broken mobile then inform the Support Coordinator or Chair as soon as possible.
Communicating via text message
Texting poses additional challenges for communication as tone and body language are lost so it is easy for messages to be misinterpreted. However, for the HG Ireland volunteer texting is a particularly valuable tool for providing support as many women are simply too sick to talk and texting also allows support to be provided at times suitable for both the woman being supported and the volunteer supporter.
Make sure that your texts are clear and can not be easily misinterpreted.
Do not use abbreviated text language when communicating with sufferers.
Sending a text in the evening letting the woman know you have been thinking of her and that she has finished another day can be particularly valuable to the HG sufferer.
Remember that even if you don't get many replies the sufferer will be able to read your texts and gain support and reassurance from them. This can really help to reduce the isolation they may be experiencing.
If you aren't going to be able to text regularly for a few days due to work/family commitments etc. then let your sufferer know and reassure her that you are still there for her.
Sometimes sufferers are laid in bed at home or in hospital for days, weeks and months and their only real contact may be via text with their volunteer. If you are finding the level of text conversation too much for you to cope with alone then let the VC know as soon as possible. It may be that the sufferer could be matched with additional volunteers so as to reduce the work load of the individual whilst providing additional company and contact for the sufferer.
Use of Email
Volunteer Supporters and staff using email to make contact with women they are supporting should routinely check their spam filters and junk mail to ensure no genuine emails from women have been filtered out.
It is suggested that where Volunteer Supporters are supporting women by email that they set up an account (for example via hotmail) specifically for the purpose of supporting women for HG Ireland, should they so wish. A forwarder to your normal account is easy to set up.
Please refer to our Facebook and online support policy and guidance.
If a woman receiving online support via our facebook forum wishes to get one on one support either via private messaging, text, phone-or-face to face she must be registered with the charity for support before a volunteer enters into a support volunteer relationship. They should either be signposted to the PSS website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
In all circumstances of support originating on facebook or twitter moving away from that forum and into a one-to-one situation the Support Coordinator must be informed and the woman registered retrospectively
Face To Face
Face-to-face support sessions should be kept to approximately 1 hour and should not be arranged without prior notice to the Support Coordinator and should be conducted within the perimeters of the HG Ireland Lone Working Policy and Boundaries Guidance.
Support should end at an appropriate time for the woman being supported and the nature of the ending determined by her needs and interests.
If the woman feels she needs additional support that falls outside HG Ireland’s remit her Volunteer Supporter should ensure that the woman is signposted to reliable and appropriate organisations/services.
Abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. If a woman being supported becomes abusive towards her Volunteer Supporter the session should be ended with immediate effect and the incident reported to the Support Coordinator, Chair or Trustees.