UBC Okanagan Canada Research Chair Barb Pesut and Health Navigator Brenda Hooper look over a workbook created to help train volunteer health navigators to work with chronically ill seniors living in rural communities.

Pilot program training volunteers to care for chronically ill

“Yes, people with life limiting chronic illness do benefit from having a nurse navigator visit them on a regular basis..." ~ Brenda Hooper

With any research project you are answering a question, says Brenda Hooper, a retired community health nurse who remains active in the home healthcare field.

During a three-year University of British Columbia (UBC) study that positioned Hooper in a new “nurse navigator” role for chronically ill seniors in Trail and Castlegar, the answer was clear.

“Yes, people with life limiting chronic illness do benefit from having a nurse navigator visit them on a regular basis for help,” she explained.

“So if that made a difference, the question is, “Can a volunteer be trained to be a navigator, with the back up of a nurse? So that’s what we are working on now.”

The pilot program called Trail/Castlegar Augmented Response (TCARE) recently morphed into the new project that now includes participants and volunteers living in Nelson.

Seven people from the three cities were trained to become healthcare navigators last week.

Volunteers with a medical background or experience working with hospice, were selected for the three-day course that essentially has them taking over the role Hooper filled during the TCARE study.

Twice a month she would make home visits to answer questions about medical care, resources in the community, as well as offering advice to families and caregivers.

That directive continues, but enables educated volunteers to help chronically ill seniors maintain better, healthier lives through their knowledge of available health care resources and services.

Participants could be dealing with a range of long term illnesses, including cancer, chronic lung diseases, heart failure, and other serious debilitating issues.

The role moves palliative care upstream and into the population with chronic illness, said Hooper.

“They are not palliative, they are struggling, when things start to get worse and they’re having to go to the doctor a lot,” she explained. “Often it’s in between first diagnosis and the end stages when end-of-life care may be required.”

Hooper describes the stage of illness like,’Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall.’

“Because they may go crashing down,” she said. “When I use those words with people they nod their heads.”

For those who feel they might be missing key pieces of information regarding their condition and treatment, Hooper helps the person sift through complicated information they receive from physicians and other healthcare specialists.

“The new training program for specialized volunteers will help them assist in ways that were noted during the (nurse navigator’s) time with that person,” she added.

Almost half the original 25 TCARE participants are part of the project’s extension, and volunteer navigators are matched to each, much like hospice and bereavement programs.

The study is currently recruiting participants in Nelson. People interested in becoming volunteer navigators or who know an older adult who might benefit from navigator services can contact Hooper at brenda.hooper@ubc.ca.

Once the year-long pilot project is complete, researchers will have a curriculum and protocol for educating future rural volunteer healthcare navigators and a better understanding of the benefits of this role.

More than $210,000 in grants for this study has been received from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, the Vancouver Foundation, and the Technology Evaluation in the Elderly. The project involves UBC Okanagan, Dalhousie University, the University of Alberta, Interior Health and several hospice organizations.

Just Posted

First Past the Post is the only option

Letter to the Editor by Dieter Bogs of Trail

Acid tainted vehicles from Trail spills, held for evidence

Contaminated vehicles are evidence in ICBC’s lawsuit against “negligent parties”

Kootenay Boundary swears in 7 new directors

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary swears in 7 new directors and 6 returning directors

More Kootenay-Columbia students for a third straight year

Enrolment across School District 20 is up 175 students since 2016

Stolen vintage motorcyle returned undamaged in Nakusp

The thieves were unable to start the antique racer and abandoned it in a vacant Nakusp garage

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

B.C. to fund gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to B.C. goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

UK’s May appeals to public on Brexit, braces for more blows

British Prime Minister Theresa May answered questions from callers on a radio phone-in, the day after she vowed to stay in office

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Woman searching for father last seen in Nelson in 1999

Johnson’s daughter, Chandra Machin, is searching for her father

$136M in transit funding coming to B.C.

The announcement was made at the BC Transit yard in Langford on Friday morning

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

Most Read