Shining a Light on Nav-CARE Volunteers

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Featured, People & Places, and Research.

The first full week of May marks National Hospice Palliative Care Week (NHPCW) in Canada. National Hospice Palliative Care Week is a time to celebrate and share achievements of hospice palliative care throughout the nation, but it also provides a platform to look at shortcomings and create bridges for these gaps. This year, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) will be taking a moment to memorialize those who have passed, as well as appreciate those who have made this hard year a little brighter by shining a light on those who matter to us most, such as Nav-CARE volunteers.


What is Nav-CARE? 

Nav-CARE (Navigation-Connecting, Accessing, Resourcing, and Engaging) is a volunteer navigation program that seeks to improve the quality of life of persons living with declining health and is currently being implemented across Canada. The program was developed from research conducted in rural palliative care by Dr. Barbara Pesut (University of British Columbia) and Dr. Wendy Duggleby (University of Alberta). Through their research, they discovered that rural older persons living at home were not receiving the support that they needed, particularly when they were living in the transition between chronic illness and palliative care. They also discovered that there were many resources in rural communities that few people knew about. Indeed, some of the greatest barriers for volunteers were the lack of opportunities to become connected to older persons who needed help. This led to the development of Nav-CARE.


The Volunteers Behind Nav-CARE

In the spirit of NHPCW, CHPCA is shining a light on Nav-CARE volunteers. Delores Brisbois is a retired registered nurse that has been working with Nav-CARE since its inception in 2017. She was drawn to the program because she loved the overall philosophy as well as their goals and vision. “It’s a huge undertaking but I think there’s a huge need for it,” states Brisbois.

Over the course of her four years with Nav-CARE, Brisbois has made long-lasting connections with both the volunteers and the clients. “The most rewarding part is when I do the final evaluations of both the volunteer navigators and the clients,” states Brisbois. In completing the final evaluations, she gets to see the full scope of the positive impact that each volunteer and client have brought forth throughout the course of the program. “To me, the heartfelt sense that you get from clients saying [you’ve] helped them immensely is unbeatable,” states Brisbois.

Although each volunteer says how great it is to support their clients, there has been a lack of awareness around the program as a whole. Volunteers like Delores Brisbois hope to spread the message and raise awareness by sharing their stories and highlighting the imminent need for this program across Canada.


To learn more about Nav-CARE and how you can get involved in your community, click here.

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