Programming Connection

Chronic Health Navigation Program 

ASK Wellness Centre
Kamloops and Merritt, British Columbia

What is the Program?

ASK Wellness Centre’s Chronic Health Navigation Program is a critical component of the linkage to care system in Kamloops, British Columbia, for people living with HIV, hepatitis C and other chronic illnesses. The program uses “health navigators,” individuals who work to improve client health by educating, guiding and advocating for clients along their health journey. Health navigation is part of ASK Wellness Centre’s Streets to Homes to Health to Employment model of service.

ASK Wellness Centre does not expect its navigators to identify as peers of their clients (although some of them are). Rather, the program employs people who have an ability to connect with and build strong relationships with clients.

Anyone living in housing managed by ASK Wellness Centre has access to a health navigator should they need one. The service is also available to anyone else in Kamloops and the surrounding areas who lives with HIV or hepatitis C.

The primary objective of the Chronic Health Navigation Program is to improve individual client health outcomes. One of the secondary goals of the program is to reduce the burden that clients with chronic diseases place on emergency health services. This is achieved by increasing client stability, confidence and independence through access to housing and healthcare. As they work with clients to meet these goals, health navigators develop individualized care plans and strive to respond flexibly to the needs of each client and engage clients in a long-term relationship. Health navigators set goals with clients and build supportive networks in the community that clients can access in times of need.

ASK Wellness Centre has two navigators in Kamloops and one in Merritt, about 85 kilometres from Kamloops; this case study will focus on the work of the two navigators in Kamloops and their 120 clients. A brief description of the work of the health navigator in Merritt can be found at the end of the How does the program work? section of this case study.