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Nav-CARE appeals for West Kootenay volunteers

NavCare program operates across the Kootenays for volunteers and clients alike
NavCare coordinator and members are looking for volunteers to help people suffering from a decline in health, bereavement and loss. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by Greater Trail Hospice Society

The Nav-CARE program, which helps local people navigate a sudden decline in health or a recent bereavement, is looking for more volunteers to meet an increase in demand for its free services.

When health takes a dramatic downturn, finding resources within our own community can feel like a daunting chore. Our unsung heroes can help and give clients as much agency as possible to make their own decisions, says Nav-CARE coordinator Linda Merlo whose team is expecting more oncology referrals this year than ever before.

Nav-CARE is a free service available for people living independently who experience a decline in health or a life limiting illness and are requiring assistance with their changing health and social needs.

“The service can also be for people recently bereaved who are in need of short-term help and support,” said Merlo.

Nav-CARE volunteers are specially trained to work with individuals and families to identify what is most important to them. They can also support an individual’s future healthcare wishes and help them get them down on paper so others may also know their goals of care.

“Volunteers should be curious, able to offer a helping hand two to four hours a month and above all enjoy meeting people and be comfortable chatting,” adds Linda.

The volunteer and client journey is a very flexible and personalized one. Matchings ensure similar interests, needs, personality traits and location preferences are met. Once matched, the relationship is confidential and meetups, appointments and schedules are coordinated between the two.

Free online training is provided followed by a five hour in-person session to consolidate learning and explore case studies, self care, boundaries and to meet other volunteers. A monthly volunteer support meeting is held for team building, debriefing, education and help with advanced care planning.

Those interested in starting their own volunteering journey or exploring the Nav-CARE service for themselves, a family member, or friend should contact Linda Merlo in Trail at 250-368-734 or

The free NavCare program operates across the Kootenays for volunteers and clients alike, go to