NaviCare/SoinsNavi: New Brunswick Navigation Centre for Children with Complex Care Needs

Dr. Rima Azar, Dr. Alison Luke, and Dr. Shelley Doucet

NaviCare/SoinsNavi is a bilingual patient navigation centre for children and youth 25 years of age or younger with complex care needs in New Brunswick. I co-founded the centre with Dr. Rima Azar, from Mount Allison University, in January 2017, thanks to a generous donation from the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation ($750,000 over four years). The New Brunswick Children’s Foundation awarded an additional $50,000 in 2020 to support the ongoing implementation of the centre. I co-direct the centre in partnership with Drs. Rima Azar and Alison Luke. To help ensure that NaviCare/SoinsNavi meets the needs of children/youth and families, we have a Family Advisory Council, which includes seven volunteers. These are parents of children with complex care needs or youth/young adults who have experienced growing up with complex care needs. They meet monthly or as needed to advise the research team, our staff, and the patient navigator. 

NaviCare/SoinsNavi provides a free personalized navigational service that can be used by anyone, including youth, family members, and those involved in the care of children and youth with complex care needs (e.g. health care providers, teachers). The primary aim of the centre is to help facilitate more convenient and integrated care to support the physical, mental, emotional, and social needs of children and their families. Clients are assigned a patient navigator - a role that is relatively new in Canada. The patient navigator is a registered nurse who helps families coordinate access to appropriate services and resources for their children. In addition, the navigator acts as a resource for the child’s care team, ensuring that the care remains integrated.


The services offered are based on a province-wide CIHR funded needs assessment in 2015, which involved over 120 interviews with youth and their families, as well as with health, social, and education stakeholders (I was the Nominated Principal Investigator for this completed project). One of the central findings from this exploratory assessment was a need for navigational support to assist not only the families, but also members of the care team. Care providers across health, education, and social service sectors described experiencing barriers to both finding and accessing services for their clients, despite their professional expertise. When developing the centre, the NaviCare/SoinsNavi team also did multiple site visits with navigation programs across North America and conducted two environmental scans, one of services available for children and youth with complex care needs across the province of New Brunswick and a second of pediatric navigation programs in Canada.

The evaluation of NaviCare/SoinsNavi is ongoing and consists of a variety of research studies including an examination of the experiences of clients who use the centre’s patient navigation services. A summary of published papers is available (see Published Works) with more papers still in progress and under review. Our team has also been asked to conduct needs assessments to assess the feasibility of implementing patient navigation in other settings (e.g., the New Brunswick Trauma Program). Over the course of three years, our NaviCare/SoinsNavi team has hired/mentored three post-doctoral fellows, three PhD trainees, three four-year undergraduate medical student researchers, six honours students, a program coordinator, two patient navigators, an administrative assistant, communication officer, knowledge translation officer, and five research assistants.


Please see the website as well as UNB’s press release for more information on the centre.




As part of the needs assessment for the navigation centre, our research team secured an operating grant from CIHR under the SPOR Quick Strike program ($100,175; I am the Nominated PI).

The goals of the Quick Strike project are to:

1. define children with complex health conditions.

2. explore the needs of children with complex health conditions and their family.

3. identify the services and programs available to address their needs.

4.identify and classify children with complex health conditions in NB and PEI.


To do so, we are engaged in searching literature, conducting interviews (with children, families, and stakeholders), and creating a tool to identify and classify complex health conditions in child patients. 


Quick Strike Research Team:

Co-Principal Investigator’s: S. Doucet, R. Azar, W. Montelpare;

Co-Investigators/Collaborators: S. Gander, M. Andre Doucet, A. Horsman, N. Hyndman, T. McDonald, B. Miedema, G. Potter, R. Stoddard, D. Nagel.


My role/responsibilities/contributions:


I played an active role in securing funding for this project. As such, I prepared multiple sections of the proposals, worked on multiple drafts of revised versions of the complete proposals, and met with funding stakeholders to present our proposed research.


Within the overall project, multiple research projects are being undertaken. I am taking the lead on projects that relate to interprofessional practice and integrated service delivery. I am also involved in supervising trainees and employees engaged in this project.

Front row: Monique DePippo and Amy Reid. Back row: Dr. Rima Azar, Krystal Binns, Kate Thompson, Jennifer Splane, Dr. Alison Luke, and Dr. Shelley Doucet.
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