Chronic illness, topic of Community Conversation

Seven volunteers were selected from the hospice program and given training in “navigation” of healthcare resources.

A Community Conversation will be hosted by Greater Trail Hospice and UBC Okanagan researchers on Thursday.

“She’s sort of like a placebo in that she’s not going to cure my cancer, but she makes it a lot more livable.”

That insight is shared by a chronically ill person from the Trail/Castlegar area who was part of ‘NCARE,’ a research partnership between UBC Okanagan and the Greater Trail Hospice Society.

Seven volunteers were selected from the hospice program and given training in “navigation” of healthcare resources, then partnered with two older adults living with cancer or other life-limiting chronic conditions. With the backing of nurse navigator Brenda Hooper, the volunteers made a visit to their clients’ home every two weeks over a one-year period to listen to their challenges and find ways to address those needs.

The hospice volunteers did not give medical advice, rather they looked at unmet needs such as lack of support, loneliness and isolation, and lack of information regarding the person’s condition or treatment. Then with Hooper’s guidance, the volunteer navigator would pass on knowledge about resources that could assist with everyday and long term decisions those living with chronic or terminal diagnoses must inevitably face.

“A lot of it is developing a relationship with the client and their family,” says Hooper, a retired community health nurse and hospice executive chair. “And being that person who is just ‘there.’”

In the August 2016 summary report, NCARE clients rated the service as highly important to their care, while the volunteers reported the role as satisfying and meaningful.

“The feedback we got from clients is that it was really valuable to know that someone would be coming,” said Hooper. “The navigator (role) was very valuable.”

Hooper and Dr. Barbara Pesut, the study’s principal investigator, are sharing the research findings with the general public this week in a “Community Conversation” on Thursday at the Cornerstone Cafe.

“With any research project, part of what they have to build into their project is knowledge translation or what is called ‘KT’,” Hooper explained. “We found out some information now we have to share that information …. and report back to the community because it’s a research project that’s based in the community.”

NCARE is an extension of a years long project that began with Dr. Pesut interviewing people in Trail and Castlegar then identifying supports that would help palliative patients living in rural areas.

From there, the study progressed to hiring Hooper as a “Nurse Navigator” in 2015. That pilot project was Trail/Castlegar Augmented Response or ‘TCARE,’ and involved Hooper visiting chronically ill seniors on a regular basis to help them maintain better, healthier lives through knowledge of available health care resources and services.

“I recruited the volunteers from the hospice program and talked about what we were looking at and what it would mean in terms of time commitment,” said Hooper. “We were very transparent about that. And so we trained these special volunteers, and all were all truly remarkable.”

The study’s participants were dealing with a range of long term illnesses, including cancer,chronic lung diseases, heart failure, and other serious debilitating issues.

The role of nurse navigator and now volunteer navigator, 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,” Hooper explained. “Often it’s in between first diagnosis and the stages when end-of-life care may be required.”

Hooper likens chronic illness to ,’Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall.’

“Maybe you will go crashing down, maybe you won’t,” she said. “But when I use those words with people, they nod their heads.”

NCARE is now rolling out in hospice programs across the country, including Nelson, the Okanagan, Smithers, Olds, Alta and Truro, Nova Scotia.

“The ripples are coming out in the next stage,” Hooper added. “What’s happening now is there are other communities who are also taking this up I am involved in the training program and doing some mentoring by telephone volunteer navigators are hooked up with their local hospice society, who will be doing the recruiting and matching with local clients.”

Everyone is welcome to the event which begins at 5:30 p.m. To RSVP, contact the Greater Trail Hospice Society at 250.364.6204.

Just Posted

Surviving the holidays: seven tips for your mental wellness

Interior Health offers ways to cope with the encroaching holiday season

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email editor@trailtimes.ca

Time to talk turkey

Five food safety tips for the holidays

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it to editor@trailtimes.ca

Creston-area rail siding, site of 1910 disaster

Place Names: McNeillie Siding, Savalpee Port, Mud Landing, Nelway and more

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Most Read