Protecting Our Clients

Please read through these important topics

When a person calls the Volunteer Chore Program for assistance, personal information is shared so that we can best know what type of help is needed. Information such as identity, income, medical conditions and age are to be confidential matters. In order to maintain the trust of our clients, we must strive to guard the dignity and privacy of everyone we serve.

Personal information may not be shared about a client unless absolutely necessary to better minister to their needs. The only exception to this policy may occur if a client or volunteer has signed a release statement authorizing the Volunteer Chore Program to release the information to specific individuals or organizations.

To promote this trust which exists between volunteers and clients, we must make proper use of the personal information we are given. Those associated with the Volunteer Chore Program respect the confidential nature of any verbal or written information about clients, staff or other
volunteers, both during and after the course of volunteer service.

Admittance: If you are scheduled to be in a client’s home and you are unable to gain admittance to the home, notify the Volunteer Chore Program immediately.
Illness/Injury: If a client is ill or injured, you should call the Volunteer Chore Program. If the client needs immediate assistance, contact his or
her physician or call 911.

Death: If a client dies while you are in the home, or you are the first person to discover a client who has died, you should immediately call 911 and then notify the Volunteer Chore Program. Always remain at the home until the proper authorities arrive.

Fire: As a volunteer you should be familiar with the location of a telephone and all exits in the client’s home. In case of a fire leave the premises with the client. DO NOT go back inside the house. Call the Fire Department from the nearest phone. Call the Volunteer Chore Program as soon as possible to report the incident.

Acceptance or use of Client’s money or property: Employees and volunteers of the Volunteer Chore Program are not to accept cash gifts of any amount nor should they accept items of value (in excess of $5) from clients.

Donations: If a client offers to reimburse you for your help or for gas used, etc., please explain to the client that this is a volunteer program and explain why you are offering to help. If the client seems to understand and wants to make a contribution to the program, please ask them to contact the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County.

Transactions Between Employees and Clients: Employees and volunteers associated with the agency, and members of their immediate family, may not use any information obtained in the course of their employment/volunteer service for the purpose of private personal economic gain, and may not purchase from or sell to clients any real or person property or personal service except at fair market value through a broker or other independent third party, or at a price available to the general public, or in special circumstances with the prior express written approval of the Chore Program Specialist.

Abuse and neglect of older persons and disabled adults include several categories of actions and/or omissions referred to as abuse, neglect, exploitation, and abandonment.

Some signs of potential abuse or neglect include an elderly person or disabled adult with bruises, welts, burns, or evidence of physical restraints, who appears over or under medicated, with inadequate food or water, or with unclean clothes or bedding, whose caregiver abuses alcohol or is emotionally unstable, who previously had excellent finances but now seems unable to meet expenses living in a family with a history of violence, who is not permitted visitors or direct, private communications with others.

Employees or volunteers of the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County have a duty to report any concerns they have about their client’s well being. If you have reasonable cause to believe that a vulnerable adult has suffered physical, sexual, mental, or emotional abuse, abandonment, exploitation or neglect, or is otherwise in need of protective services, you must make an immediate oral or written report to the Volunteer Chore Program.

The Volunteer Chore Program volunteer may be the person who has the most regular contact with aclient. As a result, you may be the first person to be aware of a deterioration in his or her physical or mental condition.

In most cases, the volunteer would report any changes to the Volunteer Chore Program Specialist who will then contact the person and/or agency who made the referral or the client’s family.

Things to watch for: Evidence of unopened mail, a stack of bills unopened, indications of unsafe food being used. Any worsening condition of a client you are serving that concerns you should be reported to the Volunteer Chore Program. In case of immediate problems or need for immediate care, call the client’s family or designated contact personThe client’s physician If an emergency call 911.

If you suspect abuse or neglect…Call the Volunteer Chore Program at (360) 734-5121 ex. 1172 or if the elderly person or disabled adult is in immediate danger call 911.