How to read protocol protocol

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This protocol is under review, and has not been accepted.

We are currently gathering feedback and editing this protocol, and there may be errors or bad wording. Please only use this protocol with caution, and if other organisations have definitive protocol, use that instead.

Please see #protocols on Slack to discuss this protocol further.

This page explains how to read protocol in QueerCare.

What is Protocol?

QueerCare (QC) uses a system of principles, policies, and protocol. For a description of what these mean and how they relate to each other, please see the resource Structure of QueerCare Documentation.

Protocol in QC describes how to do a task. These can be aimed externally, such as most of the care, advocacy and First Aid protocol (eg. Activated Charcoal Protocol), or more about how to carry out a task within QueerCare, such as the How Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Leads Respond To Safeguarding Concerns Protocol.

Protocol tells you how to a task safely and reliably. You should read it all before doing the task for the first time, and if the protocol has a note stating you must be trained in the task before carrying it out, you should get trained.

In QC, protocol is stored on the QC Wiki.

Must, Should and Can

Protocol recommendations are based on the key words must, should and can. These all have specific meanings.

(Examples below are taken from the Probation Visit Protocol)


If a protocol says you must do something, then you absolutely must do it, with no exceptions. Must statements mean:

  • A task cannot done without doing this step.
  • If you do a task without doing this step you are not able to call it QC work.
  • Not doing this step would cause harm and/or Bad Care.

It's better not to do a task at all than to do it without following 'must' instructions.

Must statements are recommendations that are built from overwhelming organisational experience or clear medical consensus.

Eg. You and your buddy must check the licence conditions with the person you're caring for.


If a protocol says you should do something, then it's almost certainly the best course of action, but there may be exceptions.

These recommendations generally have significant medical consensus behind them, or are build on significant organisational experience.

Eg. You should get you, your buddy and the person you're caring for something to drink/eat whilst preparing for the appointment.


If a protocol says you can do something, you should apply your judgement and consider whether it applies under your particular circumstances. Can is used for:

  • methods which have worked for a few people, but have not yet been tested enough to become a should or a must
  • medical recommendations with less research behind them, for example one or two small studies
  • medical recommendations with contradictory evidence behind them
  • recommendations which are very contextual or circumstantial

Eg. You can arrange for you and your buddy to support the person at their next probation appointment.

Should recommendations are often accompanied by can recommendations, to provide other options, all framed within a must. For example:

You must do one of the following, and you should do X, but can do Y or Z