West Coast Navigators
The West Coast Health Navigator programme was first funded in 2007 as part of a Ministry of Health project supporting people with cancer. The initial project was very successful and now the PHO funds the service from the LTC programme and has extended the service to include other long terms conditions (CVD, diabetes and respiratory) plus people who have complex social problems.
Non-clinical people were appointed as navigators because of the need to retain clinical staff in clinical positions due to the challenges associated with recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas. Navigators were recruited because they had experience working in a healthcare Maori provider or community-based NGO or as a caregiver. In addition, they had good knowledge of the local community and established networks, as well as computer skills.
The Navigators main role is to help people find their way through the health and social care systems. The role of the navigators can be divided into two distinct areas – relational and logistical.
Examples of these are:
Relational: building relationships and trust with clients.
Logistical: helping navigate the system, find ways of getting to appointments and linking health and social issues together.
The team of the same 4 navigators has been together for 9 years which has also helped with continuity, trust and knowledge of the community.