Nav-CARE: Volunteer Navigators Connecting Older Adults in Rural Communities with Resources and Supports
Dr. Wendy Duggleby, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta in Collaboration with Covenant Health (Camrose and Killam sites)
The quality of life of older rural persons living at home with advanced chronic illness is often limited. These adults often have many symptoms and poor quality of life in part because they are unable to connect with the resources they need. The Nav-CARE approach is novel because experienced volunteers are specifically trained to help older persons with chronic illness to connect and access the resources they need, and to help them re-engage with their communities.
The goal of the Nav-CARE program is to help seniors with chronic illnesses live a better life. With Nav-CARE, specially trained volunteer navigators conduct regular visits with clients in their home. Navigation services were provided by specially trained volunteer navigators, trained to specifically help older adults find resources in the community.
Volunteer navigators were able to advocate and facilitate community connections to make a difference in how seniors lived their experience with chronic illness. Navigators learned to help older persons access services and resources, and worked to promote active engagement of older adults with their community.
- A resource guide for health provider and volunteer navigators specific to their local community (Camrose and Killam)
- Trained healthcare provider and volunteer navigators in the communities of Killam and Camrose
- An Implementation toolkit with specific strategies for implementation of Nav-CARE in a new community.
Impact and Ultimate Success
Older adults identified multiple factors affecting their quality of life including physical health and symptom management, activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living. To address older adults’ quality of life concerns volunteer navigators connected them to community resources including CNIB, homecare, transportation services, information on personal directives, respite and day programs, and home support services such as prepared meal services.
Aside from making community connections, one of the most significant contributions navigation provided to older adults was relieving isolation and loneliness through companionship and emotional support.
At the end of the program, older adults and volunteer navigators were asked to evaluate Nav-CARE for feasibility, acceptability, ease of use, and satisfaction. Majority of older adults agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the navigation services (100%), that navigation services were important to them (87%), that they would recommend the program to someone else (87%), that working with navigators increased their ability to access services (73%), and that they would participate in the program again (75%). Similarly, volunteer navigators reported 100% satisfaction with the program, 100% would recommend, and 67% would participate again.
The ultimate success of this journey would be to have Nav-CARE implemented through Hospice Societies across Alberta.