Nav-CARE (Navigation – Connecting, Accessing, Resourcing, Engaging)
Navigating life and aging with chronic illness


What is Nav-CARE?

The overall goal of the Nav-CARE program is to improve the quality of life of people living with declining health. Community organizations across Canada are project partners.

This project builds upon over 10 years of collaborative work with knowledge partners in which we developed the conceptual and theoretical foundations; created, tested, and refined curriculum for volunteer navigators; conducted three incremental pilots to determine the feasibility and acceptability of the Nav-CARE model; and completed knowledge translation studies to better understand Nav-CAREs adaptability. We are currently scaling Nav-CARE out across Canada and adapting it for special populations.

Why is Nav-CARE important?

Persons living with declining health often live with unmet needs and experience social isolation resulting in poor quality of life. Many do not know the services that are available to assist them.  Our previous research (see below) has demonstrated the value of using trained navigators to visit in the home to provide psychosocial support, education, guidance on advance care planning and connection to community and health resources. These navigators build relationships with persons to provide social support and to connect them to community-based resources using a best-fit, client-centered approach.


The following publications provide information about the development and evaluation of the Nav-CARE program. Full information is available at

Scaling out a palliative compassionate community innovation: Nav-CARE


There is an urgent need for community-based interventions that can be scaled up to meet the growing demand for palliative care. The purpose of this
study was to scale out Nav-CARE by replicating the program in multiple contexts and evaluating feasibility, acceptability, sustainability, and impact.

(Dis)connecting through COVID-19: Experiences of older persons in the context of a volunteer–client relationship


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s impacted older persons and volunteer agencies. To learn more about these impacts, we interviewed 23
clients and 33 volunteers to investigate their experiences during COVID-19. Findings highlighting the importance of acknowledging both older
persons’ vulnerability and their resilience, of building in compassionate community approaches to care, and of finding innovative ways to foster
volunteer–client relationships during times when physical visiting is not possible.

A mixed-method evaluation of a volunteer navigation intervention for older persons living with chronic illness (Nav-CARE): Findings from a knowledge translation study


Volunteer navigation is an innovative way to help older persons get connected to resources in their community that they may not know about or have difficulty accessing. Nav-CARE is an intervention in which volunteers, who are trained in navigation, provide services for older persons living at home with chronic illness to improve their quality of life. The goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of Nav-CARE on volunteers, older persons, and family participating across eight Canadian sites.

Implementing volunteer-navigation for older persons with advanced chronic illness (Nav-CARE): A knowledge to action study


Nav-CARE is a volunteer-led intervention designed to build upon strategic directions in palliative care: a palliative approach to care, a public health/compassionate community approach to care, and enhancing the capacity of volunteerism. Nav-CARE uses specially trained volunteers to provide lay navigation for older persons and family living at home with advanced chronic illness. The goal of this study was to better understand the implementation factors that influenced the utilization of Nav-CARE in eight diverse Canadian contexts.

Developing navigation competencies to care for older rural adults with advanced illness*


Navigators help rural older adults with advanced illness and their families connect to needed resources, information, and people to improve their quality of life. This article describes the process used to engage experts – in rural aging, rural palliative care, and navigation competencies for the care of this population. A discussion paper on the important considerations for navigation in this population was developed followed by a four-phased Delphi process with 30 expert panel members. Study results culminated in five general navigation competencies for health care providers caring for older rural persons and their families at end of life: provide patient/family screening; advocate for the patient/family; facilitate community connections; coordinate access to services and resources; and promote active engagement. Specific competencies were also developed. These competencies provide the foundation for research and curriculum development in navigation.

Volunteer navigation partnerships: Piloting a compassionate community approach to early palliative care


A compassionate community approach to palliative care provides important rationale for building community-based hospice volunteer capacity. In this project, we piloted one such capacity-building model in which volunteers and a nurse partnered to provide navigation support beginning in the early palliative phase for adults living in community. The goal was to improve quality of life by developing independence, engagement, and community connections.

Nurse-led navigation to provide early palliative care in rural areas: A pilot study


Few services are available to support rural older adults living at home with advancing chronic illness. The objective of this project was to pilot a nurse-led navigation service to provide early palliative support for rural older adults and their families living at home with advancing chronic illness.

Development, implementation, and evaluation of a curriculum to prepare volunteer navigators to support older persons living with serious illness


The purpose of this article is to report the development, implementation, and evaluation of a curriculum designed to prepare volunteer navigators to support community-dwelling older persons with serious chronic illness. The role of the volunteer navigator was to facilitate independence and quality of life through building social connections, improving access to resources, and fostering engagement. A curriculum was constructed from evidence-based competencies, piloted and revised, and then implemented in 7 subsequent workshops. Workshop participants were 51 volunteers and health-care providers recruited through local hospice societies and health regions. Curriculum was evaluated through satisfaction and self-efficacy questionnaires completed at workshop conclusion. Post workshop evaluation indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the training. One workshop cohort of 7 participants was followed for 1 year to provide longitudinal evaluation data. Participants followed longitudinally reported improved self-efficacy over 12 months and some challenges with role transition. Future improvements will include further structured learning opportunities offered by telephone post workshop, focusing on advocacy, communication, and conflict management. Overall, volunteers were satisfied with the curriculum and reported good self-perceived efficacy in their new role as navigators.