A Nav-CARE volunteer and client. Photo: Submitted

A Nav-CARE volunteer and client. Photo: Submitted

Nav-CARE program expands regionally

Run by the Kalein Centre, the program helps people with declining heath to make care decisions

Submitted by the Kalein Centre

The Nav-CARE program offered through the Kalein Centre is expanding regionally to provide service to the Slocan Valley.

“We’re very excited to be in a position to extend this supportive service to more rural areas,” said Erin Thompson, program manager. “The requests to expand our service area have been coming from healthcare providers, seniors associations, and individuals since we started Nav-CARE in Nelson almost two years ago.”

The service area will now stretch from Salmo at its southernmost point, continue north up the lake to Balfour, branch west from Nelson to the junction at South Slocan, and up the Slocan Valley to Hills, just north of New Denver.

Nav-CARE is a compassionate community-based program that was developed initially to improve the quality of life of seniors living with chronic illness, social isolation or increased frailty by providing social, emotional, and practical support. The scope of clientele has recently been updated by the lead research team at UBC and the University of Alberta to include all adults with declining health.

“Including all adults with declining health makes sense,” said Thompson. “People go through many of the same challenges with symptoms, not knowing what other community resources are available to them, and managing all the changes in their personal lives. Age is just an added factor.”

Nav-CARE is a volunteer-based service where specially trained volunteers can support clients to explore their options so that they feel they are making informed decisions for their life and their care. Volunteers can also provide respite for family members during visits, as well as helping family members and the individual to manage feelings of overwhelm.

Above all, volunteer navigators listen to, support, and encourage individuals with serious illness and their families.

“Sometimes just being there is a big thing,” said Nav-CARE co-ordinator Laurie Mac Donald. “People often underestimate the power of connection and companionship, but it is one of the No. 1 reasons volunteers and clients join the program.”

The past year and a half has been difficult for everyone, especially those with weakened immune systems and who were already facing social isolation. As referrals increase, the Nav-CARE team welcomes new volunteers. The next online volunteer training is spread over four days: June 29 and 30, 6 to 8:30 p.m., and then July 6 and 7, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

This 10-hour training will help to prepare the volunteer in their role as a volunteer navigator with Nav-CARE. A minimum six-month commitment is requested of all volunteers to limit the disruption of re-matching clients.

If you feel inspired, and you have the time and capacity to help out in this way, or if you know of someone (including yourself) who would benefit from Nav-CARE, please get in touch with Nav-CARE co-ordinator Laurie Mac Donald at 250-777-3230 or email laurie@kaleinhospice.org. Check out https://kaleincentre.org/nav-care-program/ for more information.