Indigenous Patient Navigators (IPNs) have been introduced to BC Cancer to help deliver supportive health care services to patients who identify as Indigenous. The new roles will ensure Indigenous patients receive supportive care that is trauma informed and culturally safe.
The IPN role is purposefully designed to ensure the provision of patient-centered care is culturally safe for both Indigenous patients and their health care providers. The IPNs will provide support and advocacy for Indigenous patients by facilitating and coordinating access to health care services, addressing cultural and spiritual needs, and networking with Indigenous and non-Indigenous health system and community partners.
“Cancer care for Indigenous people is unique due to many factors,” says Warren Clarmont, provincial director, Indigenous Cancer Control at BC Cancer. “These factors can include the remoteness of many Indigenous communities, the cultural and language barriers between patients and health care providers, historic and current experiences with discrimination –or fear thereof – and poverty and other social determinants of health that may impact a person’s ability to access information, care and treatment.”
During the development of the Indigenous Cancer Strategy
, feedback from patients, families and stakeholders identified a broader need for Indigenous-specific patient navigators working in cancer care across the province. Feedback also identified a need to approach care in a way that was integrated with Indigenous organizations in the province. The new IPNs will support the development of regional strategies to improve Indigenous cancer care by working in partnership with the Métis Nation BC, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, and the First Nation Health Authority as appropriate.
“One important role for the IPNs will be to help facilitate and coordinate spiritual care for Indigenous patients, which requires a relationship with the Indigenous community to be able to access spiritual care providers,” says Warren.
Indigenous Patient Navigators are now in place at many BC Cancer centres. The IPNs are also connecting with Indigenous communities and organizations across the region to promote this role and better understand the needs of patients, families and communities.