The West Kootenay Nav-CARE program is in need of volunteers to work with people who have serious illness or frailty. File photo

The West Kootenay Nav-CARE program is in need of volunteers to work with people who have serious illness or frailty. File photo

West Kootenay Nav-CARE program in need of volunteers

Volunteers undergo training to work with people living with serious illness

Submitted by West Kootenay Nav-CARE

The West Kootenay Nav-CARE program, which helps local people navigate chronic illness, increased frailty, or social isolation, is looking for more volunteers to meet a growing demand for its free services.

Adults living with serious illness or frailty, particularly those who do not yet qualify for home-based nursing care, often live with unmet needs and heavy symptom burden resulting in poor quality of life. Many do not know the services that are available.

“When a person is overwhelmed, even asking for help can feel too daunting,” said Valentina Guarneri, the Nav-CARE co-ordinator for Nelson. “Many people we support have expressed concern about being a burden on their friends and family.”

Nav-CARE is a program that was co-created by Dr. Barbara Pesut, PhD Canada Research Chair in Health, Ethics and Diversity at UBC, and Dr. Wendy Duggleby, Research Chair in Aging and Quality of Life, of the University of Alberta. Over the past 12 years, they have been tracking and evaluating the results of the program, which is being implemented in communities across Canada.

“One of the most significant findings to date has been that volunteers often underestimate the impact of their visits,” said Pesut. “Yet when we speak to clients about their experience, we consistently hear that the volunteer’s support and assistance has made a world of difference.”

Nav-CARE volunteers undergo special training where they learn to work with individuals and families to identify what is most important to them. They can then start to build action plans, and help make community connections to build out a network of support with the client.

“Nav-CARE is part of the compassionate communities initiative, where we help each other and know that we, in turn, will be cared for,” said Guarneri.

The opportunity to participate within a structured program can help ensure that the scope of involvement is sustainable for both the client and the volunteer.

Volunteers can expect to dedicate four-to-eight hours per month, including monthly meet-ups to connect and debrief with other volunteers, and optional educational opportunities.

To sign up to volunteer, please contact Guarneri at 778-689-6832 or, or complete the two-minute intake form at