Implementing Nav-CARE to Support a Compassionate Community Approach

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

Dale Weil is the Executive Director of the Teresa Dellar Palliative Care Residence (TDPCR) and the Montreal Institute for Palliative Care Institute (Institute), located on the West Island of Montreal. Weil and the TDPCR employees and volunteers have been working tirelessly to build a compassionate community program in collaboration with Nav-CARE (Navigation-Connecting, Advocating, Resourcing, and Engaging), a volunteer navigation program that seeks to improve the quality of life of persons living with serious illness or declining health and currently being implemented across Canada. Nav-CARE is TDPCR’s way of providing a  compassionate community approach to helping citizens in their own community.

TDPCR is comprised of three components: the Residence—a 23-bed facility for palliative care, the Foundation which raises the money needed to supplement government subsidies, and the Institute created a few years ago.

Founded in 2018 after extensive consultation and an environmental assessment across Canada, the Institute’s mission is to increase capabilities, access and quality of palliative care through education and research so that more citizens can benefit.

“We realized that to continue to be a leader in our region, we would always need to maintain a certain capacity to provide palliative care within our four walls, but there was also a big need and opportunity to create more capabilities and capacity for a palliative care approach in the community and in other care settings, such as in long term care facilities, homes, and even some hospital settings.” states Weil, “So, we founded the Institute to focus on fulfilling this need.”

As the Institute was created, Weil discovered an opportunity to strengthen the presence of compassionate communities in Quebec. A compassionate community is comprised of a group of people who are concerned with the well-being and quality of life of those around them. These communities come together to care for and support those living with advanced illnesses and at the latest stages of life, and work to build a skilled society that is able face illness, death, and bereavement as part of the life cycle.

To create a solid compassionate community, Weil felt that TDPCR could take a leadership role by creating a research demonstration project. This project would look at impact and measure results through already established and new community development projects and assess how they are successful as well as how they can be enhanced. “To me, there are two big buckets within compassionate communities,” says Weil, “There’s an education and awareness piece, equipping citizens with knowledge about care choices and options, and then there’s the accompaniment piece: that friendly visit, the helping out with a chore, navigating other services.” There are many examples of compassionate communities in the West Island—an area rich in community services and we are hoping to catalyze and build on these.

Through their work with compassionate communities, TDPCR realized that there was a tremendous need in the community for accompaniment and navigation. “Our traditional ways of helping as a residence focus on activities supporting people who are here in the residence and their families. Bereavement services also extend to the general community. With so many people wanting to be in their own homes and isolation being a critical challenge, exacerbated through COVID-19, we felt that we could give back to our community by reaching out,” says Weil. In realizing the need for in-home support, TDPCR was able to create their own compassionate community project by becoming one of the five Nav-CARE hubs in the country. Nav-CARE’s program is ideal for compassionate communities, as it offers a specialized training program for experienced volunteers to provide long-term navigation support and companionship for older persons in their community.

In order to fully implement their compassionate approach to care, TDPCR will offer their services bilingually. Since Nav-CARE’s model was originally created in English, TDPCR is supporting the national program by conducting focus groups with the Francophone populations across the country to ensure relevance in the Francophone context.

TDPCR is set to launch its Nav-CARE hub in November 2021. They will also supporting other palliative care sites in Quebec that wish to build this program in their own communities and look forward to continuing the expansion of a palliative approach across Canada.

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