Federal funding makes Nav-CARE available to Canada’s most vulnerable population
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all Canadians, but isolated older persons have been especially hard hit over the past year.
To help with this, Health Canada has awarded $2.2 million to expand across the country Nav-CARE (Navigation- Connecting, Accessing, Resourcing, Engaging)—a program developed by researchers at UBC Okanagan’s School of Nursing and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing.
Nav-CARE is a program where trained volunteers provide navigation services to people with declining health who are living at home. The program has been implemented and evaluated in 27 sites across Canada. The contribution from Health Canada will support a national scale-up of Nav-CARE, with 15 centres of excellence and 30 satellite sites. The financial support will also enable an online adaptation of the Nav-CARE toolkit and training as well as allow for adaptation of Nav-CARE materials for Francophones, Indigenous populations and caregivers of persons living with dementia.
“Over the last 12 years, my colleague Wendy Duggleby at the University of Alberta and I have been developing and building the evidence around the Nav-CARE program,” says Dr. Barb Pesut, professor of nursing and Principal Research Chair in Palliative and End-of-Life Care. “We know what works and are now ready to scale it up and offer it to all Canadians.”
Pesut says she and the team are optimistic thanks to the support and engagement they get from the communities where the program is offered.
“We were overwhelmed by the level of satisfaction volunteers and older adults had with the program,” says Dr. Duggleby, professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing. “As a result, we have developed a Nav-CARE toolkit, which is a practical way for communities to provide compassionate care for those living in their communities with health needs.”
Pesut adds that palliative care often comes too late and many people are left struggling.
“Individuals with chronic illness need support early, as soon as their health declines enough to influence their quality of life, which is when we need to intervene.”
Nav-CARE volunteers also provide companionship and emotional support. Pesut and Duggleby expect that this program will allow more older persons to live well and independently at home.
“We want to provide support to all, but we especially want to reach the one in five seniors who admit they are experiencing emotional distress and have difficulty coping day-to-day,” says Pesut.
“While the pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of this population, I’m hopeful that Nav-CARE will help improve the lives of countless Canadians.”