SUNDRE — Facing life’s final journey is a difficult path that no one should have to walk alone.
The Olds and District Hospice Society introduced a new program called Nav-CARE, short for navigation, a couple of years ago to help connect clients with trained volunteers who serve not only as a link to resources but also as a shoulder to lean on.
“They did the trial project when Nav-CARE first got developed, and it really worked out well,” said Diana Kleinloog, Sundre Palliative Care Association chair.
That service has more recently reached Sundre, which through a partnership with the association has become a satellite for the program’s main hub that is run out of Olds, said Kleinloog.
“We didn’t want to duplicate all the administration in Sundre and in Olds,” she said.
The initiative trains volunteer navigators, hence the name of the program, who help improve the lives of people enduring chronic or terminal illnesses by establishing connections to community services and resources as well as providing caring, compassionate emotional and social support.
“It’s basically getting a volunteer matched with a client very early on in the diagnosis, so that they can really work through that whole journey together,” said Kleinloog.
“Right from the time you get the diagnosis that you now have a life-limiting illness, it can be quite a journey until you get to end of life,” she said.
Now that the program is available in Sundre, anyone who is interested in signing up is encouraged to contact Ruby Elliott, the services coordinator for the Olds and District Hospice Society, at 403-586-9992.
“This year, because we’ve had some time and the ability, we’ve had six people in Sundre trained as Nav-CARE volunteers,” Kleinloog said.
“We are all ready to go,” she said, adding Elliott is able to provide referrals.
Visit nav-care.ca to learn more about the overarching program, or www.oldshospice.com/nav-care for more information about the regional initiative.
The association also plans to put out a community needs survey for palliative care to determine what residents would like the association to focus on, she said.
“In this day and age, maybe people are looking a little differently at end of life care, and maybe their focus is just at home, or somewhere else. I don’t know where they want to be,” she said.
“But we should be asking that question so that we can focus our efforts and our service to them.”