Health Canada has awarded $2.2 million to expand a program developed by UBC Okanagan to help people with declining health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Canadians, but it has had a significant impact on isolated seniors in the last year.
Health Canada has awarded $2.2 million across the country to expand Nav-CARE (Navigation - Connecting, Accessing, Resourcing, Engaging) — a program developed by UBC Okanagan’s School of Nursing researchers and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing.
The program helps people who are living at home with declining health, with the help of trained volunteers. It has been implemented and evaluated in 27 sites across the country.
The $2.2 million contribution from Health Canada will support the scale up of the program, with 15 entries of excellence and 30 satellite sites.
It will also help create an online adaptation of Nav-CARE’s toolkit and training, as well as an adaptation of the program’s materials for Francophones, Indigenous people and those caring for people with dementia.
“Over the last 12 years, my colleague Wendy Duggleby at the University of Alberta and I have been developing and building the evidence around the Nav-CARE program,” says Dr. Barb Pesut, professor of nursing and Principal Research Chair in Palliative and End-of-Life Care. “We know what works and are now ready to scale it up and offer it to all Canadians.”
Pesut and her team are feeling optimistic as a result of the support they get from the communities Nav-CARE is in.
“We were overwhelmed by the level of satisfaction volunteers and older adults had with the program,” says Dr. Duggleby, professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing. “As a result, we have developed a Nav-CARE toolkit, which is a practical way for communities to provide compassionate care for those living in their communities with health needs.”
According to Pesut, palliative care is not accessible until it’s too late and lots of people are left struggling.
“Individuals with chronic illness need support early, as soon as their health declines enough to influence their quality of life, which is when we need to intervene,” she says.
Volunteers with the program also provide companionship and emotional support.
“We want to provide support to all, but we especially want to reach the one-in-five seniors who admit they are experiencing emotional distress and have difficulty coping day-to-day,” says Pesut.
“While the pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of this population, I’m hopeful that Nav-CARE will help improve the lives of countless Canadians.”