My name is Janice and I work for The Bureau in Glossop as part of the Community Navigator team. Having worked as Community Navigator for nearly three years, it feels the right time to reflect and share my thoughts about my role. I am sure most people will agree with me about what it means to live well. Here are my thoughts based on my experience: Managing health conditions, having enough money to live on, a warm and safe home, employment, social connections and remaining independent. Of course, this list is not exclusive, as living well is down to individual priorities and choices.
However, for many of those referred, the above is not their reality and they face barriers to living well. Our referrals come from a variety of services including GPs, social services and allied professionals.
The strength of the Community Navigation role is that takes a holistic and person centred approach. The neutrality (not a statutory service) frees the person to explore his or her own personal goals and acts as a springboard for positive change. Individuals are encouraged to recognise their existing strengths and to build on this resilience. This may include accessing Citizens Advice, Carers, dementia or mental health support.
Over the project, it has become clear; loneliness and isolation are key issues for individuals across all age groups. It has often felt that our lives are like jigsaws; sometimes the pieces fit perfectly but at other times, because of circumstances, bereavement, ill health, depression, the pieces can feel disjointed or faded. The strength of the Community Navigation role is establishing a positive working relationship, people feel more comfortable to push themselves outside of their comfort zone and to address some of the changed pieces.
Community resources are crucial for sustained change. Groups such as: dementia support, shopping companions, art projects, exercise groups, befriending, community allotments, life skills, to name a few, are vital for people to move on, allowing people to embrace new challenges and make positive changes.
For one client becoming involved with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, inspirations choir, described the difference to her pain management, “I am now singing at home whenever my pain thresholds are high and it lifts the spirits” She has found the peer support invaluable, whilst she has been dealing with treatment for a debilitating brain tumour and other physical health conditions.
Working collaboratively across the voluntary and statutory sector, has been crucial to its success. This collaboration also feels like a jigsaw, each piece being equally important and requiring support to make it sustainable. I have seen the positives of harnessing community resources and statutory care provision, to create opportunities for people to take control and make positive life choices.
I have recently been appointed the Primary Care Network link worker for Glossop and this will of course bring new challenges and rewards. The role encompasses the core objectives and principles of the community navigator role and I am confident it will continue to be a positive experience for those we support.
Find out more about the services offered by The Bureau.