Age Friendly Cold Lake (AFCL) needs more volunteers so they can build on the success of their NavCare program
NavCare matches a volunteer “navigator” with a client who could use some help finding their path to better living. The clients are usually older people with health concerns or care needs; the navigators volunteer an hour a week to provide some assistance.
“They relieve feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety,” said Cathy Aust, AFCL’s manager of program development. “Someone to talk through important decisions and future plans.
“If the person doesn’t have any family, the navigator will help guide in the sense of, do you have your will done? Do you have a personal directive? What are your final wishes? So some important conversations. If they do have family and the family is heavily involved, then the navigator is trained to have some tips that they can talk to the care partners to try and make life a little bit easier for them,” Aust said.
The volunteers and clients are matched up on a one-on-one basis. This helps create a personal relationship and build trust.
A navigator can help a client find community resources they need, and can give them confidence to interact with other people in comfortable social settings. Aust said the regular Feast of Friendship luncheons, Seniors’ Society activities, or dropping by the Men’s Shed can be enjoyable ways to combat isolation.
A navigator can also act as an advocate in healthcare settings, although Aust said this level of trust usually comes after several months of building a relationship.
While many clients need some level of palliative care, this does not necessarily mean hospice or end-of-life situations. It’s more a matter of managing a temporary or chronic illness and helping the client to be comfortable and cared for, and to live as well as possible.
There is initial training for navigators, and ongoing day-to-day support through the NavCare program.
“We’re there for support.” Aust said.
Often a navigator will contact the office to check in and ask questions. “A navigator will call and ask, ‘Can we chat this morning? I just want to run a few things by you and pick your brain,’” she said.
Volunteers are motivated by a desire to help and to give back.
“When I ask the volunteers why they are doing this, most of them say they want to give back to their community—that seniors have built the foundation of our community and they deserve respect.”
The program has been successful in helping its clients, and the success has led to more demand for the service. More volunteers are always welcome, Aust said.
For more information, contact Age Friendly Cold Lake at (780) 594-5666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.