Our donor carers are the frontline of blood donation services. They are the first point of contact for our blood donors and care for them while they give blood.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) collect just over 1.6 million donations of blood and blood products throughout England each year. The NHS relies on members of the public (donors) giving voluntary donations of blood and blood products. These are stored and given to patients when needed, for example, during surgery or after an accident.
As a donor carer, you’ll enjoy plenty of variety including caring for donors through the blood donation process, driving NHSBT equipment vehicles, loading/unloading and assembling mobile donation equipment.
You don’t need a healthcare background or any qualifications as you’ll be trained in a variety of roles to undertake the blood donation process, including:
- welcoming donors
- assessing if someone can safely give blood
- assisting with screening of donors by asking questions about their health
- performing venepuncture (using needles to take blood)
- monitoring the donation whilst caring for the donor
- updating records and giving basic clinical advice and aftercare
- providing refreshments and overseeing donor recovery
- thanking donors and encouraging them to make an appointment to return
Naturally, you’ll need to be comfortable with handling bags of donated blood.
Customer care is an important part of the job. It’s your passion for people and reassuring nature that’s important and will encourage donors to return and bring family and friends along to donate.
Some donor carers work in the fixed donor centre sites. These are purpose built locations open most days of the week. Donor carers working at these sites are not required to drive NHSBT equipment vehicles. Some donor carers, however, work in mobile teams going out into the community to a different location each day.
There are no set entry requirements or formal qualifications to becoming a donor carer. However, you will need a good grasp of literacy and numeracy. If the role is for a mobile team you will also need to possess a full UK driving licence, although you will be trained to drive larger NHSBT vehicles and if necessary support in obtaining the additional category to drive large vehicles on your licence.
Donor carers may enter through a health and social care (care pathway) apprenticeship at level 2 or 3. Apprenticeships whilst undertaking this role are available.
NHSBT provide comprehensive training to undertake the donor carer role, so you don’t need a background in healthcare for this role.
Skills and personal characteristics needed
As a donor carer, you'll need to interact with lots of people, so you will need to be friendly and confident with good customer care skills. You will also need the ability to work within a team and have excellent communication skills.
You'll need to carefully follow the written procedures required to collect blood safely, so an eye for detail is key. Confidence working with computers and other digital devices is also important. You will also need to be physically fit to be able to carry and set up the donation equipment.
Training and development
You will be given training in the role of donor carer so that you can perform the role with confidence. You will obtain nationally recognised certification for the skills you learn while you are with NHSBT.
Donor carers work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. Some may work evenings and weekends. You'll move around between locations to collect blood, as part of a team. In the NHS, you'll typically be on Agenda for Change (AfC) band 3.
With experience, you could become a donor care supervisor, overseeing the work of donor carers, organising rotas, etc. You could then become a manager, responsible for donor sessions and staff across an area.
You may be able to move into other wider health care roles such as clerk, health records staff or healthcare assistant. You could apply to train for other roles including assistant practitioner or nurse.
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