Programming Connection

Chronic Health Navigation Program 

ASK Wellness Centre
Kamloops and Merritt, British Columbia

Lessons Learned

  1. Provide housing first. Housing people at risk of homelessness or who are homeless is the first step in the journey toward health. People who experience periodic homelessness may not be able to address complex chronic conditions when they do not have a stable place to live.
  2. Engage intensively in the first six months. Navigators work intensively with clients in the first six months to stabilize them. This period also allows navigators and clients to get to know one another and build strong, trusting relationships. In the long term, this strong relationship is the foundation on which many clients build their health and well-being.
  3. Provide a non-judgemental support system. Health navigators provide a non-judgemental support system to clients who feel they do not have access to appropriate and responsive health and social services. This increases clients’ engagement in care and has reduced the need for many clients to access emergency care.
  4. Build strong networks. Health navigators must spent significant time connecting with physicians, services providers, landlords and other community members to ensure that they have strong, responsive connections that allow clients to access services when they are needed.
  5. Use a self-management approach. Using a self-management approach to achieving client goals shows the client their own abilities and builds their confidence. Helping clients achieve more independence reduces the burden on the health navigator and also reduces the cost to the healthcare system of chronic illness.
  6. Be flexible in client care. Each client’s personality, history and needs are different and health navigators must demonstrate an ability to meet each client where they are on their journey and offer tailored support so that they can achieve their goals.