Nav-CARE is a program being developed through research that is currently available in select communities across Canada. Communities who choose to participate in the Nav-CARE program first go through a series of steps to determine whether Nav-CARE is a good fit for their organization and community. If Nav-CARE is a good fit, then experienced volunteers are recruited and offered a two day training in volunteer navigation. These specially-trained volunteers then work with one or two seniors in the home with the goal of providing long term navigation support and companionship. Communities who choose to participate in the research aspects of Nav-CARE receive some funding support and in turn participate in evaluation of the Nav-CARE outcomes.

“You know someone’s coming by, checking up on you, giving you a sense of community…it’s nice to know that there’s somebody there who can help you out when you need it”

-Nav-CARE participant 


Nav-CARE was developed from research conducted in rural palliative care by Dr. Barbara Pesut and Dr. Wendy Duggleby. Through their research they discovered that rural seniors living at home were not receiving the support that they needed, particularly when they were living in the transition between chronic illness and palliative care. They also discovered that there were many resources in rural communities that few people knew about. Indeed, some the greatest barriers for volunteers were the lack of opportunities to become connected to seniors who needed help. This led to the development of Nav-CARE.

Dr. Duggleby developed competencies for navigation in assisting rural seniors while Dr. Pesut trialled nurse/volunteer navigation partnerships in one rural community. Nav-CARE was developed strategically through a series of research projects over a seven year period and has now been implemented in 14 hospice societies, with a growth plan to add another 9 sites in 2019. Findings from these projects can be found here. To view a list of our partners click here.


  • Relieve feelings of loneliness. isolation and anxiety
  • Talk through important decisions and future plans
  • Locate local services and resources to help manage illness
  • Book appointments
  • Assist in re-engaging in hobbies and other interests such as art classes, reading, baking, and much more
  • One on one relationships tailored to specific needs
  • Locate local people and resources to help manage day to day needs
  • Help seniors get to where they need to go


Seniors living with serious illness often have needs that influence their health, but these needs are not the focus of healthcare. For example, loneliness and social isolation are significant predictors for hospitalization in the later years of life. Seniors must make life changing decisions to accommodate new life realities. Getting around the community can become intensely challenging.  All of these things influence how seniors manage their health. Volunteer navigators are trained to help with these needs.

Above all, volunteers are trained to ask the question, “What is most important to you today?”, and work alongside seniors to help them accomplish that.

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