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 all protocol on a task you are planning to do 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 must 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 usually the best course of action, but whether or not it will be appropriate for you depends on your context.

They may not be universally relevant, may be helpful only in some situations or may be an additional step that can help or improve the task but which the task can be done without.

You can do a task and call it QC even if you have not followed the should statements in the protocol.

Should statements are recommendations that are built from significant organisational experience or significant medical consensus.

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 in your particular context.

Can is used for:

  • Additional steps which can help or improve the task but which the task can be done perfectly well without
  • Recommendations that are applicable only in some contexts or circumstances
  • 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, or with contradictory evidence behind them

Can statements are recommendations that are built from some organisational experience or some medical consensus.

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

Using these Together

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

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

Issues with Protocol

If you follow a protocol and find there is a problem with it or it needs to be updated, the protocol must be reviewed and edited if needed.

If you are working in or as QC, you should follow the steps outlined in the Writing Protocol Protocol for editing and reviewing protocol.

If you are external to QC, you should fill out this protocol feedback form.