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A year of Navigator at the Royal Alexandra Hospital

The Navigator service is celebrating its annual anniversary of being part of the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley.

Navigator is an Emergency Department-based peer support programme that operates across 7 Emergency Departments in Scotland and has offered support to nearly 3000 patients. The service first launched in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 2015 and is run by Medics against Violence with support from the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and our NHS partners.

Navigators aim to target patients attending accident and emergency departments with a wide variety of complex social issues including violence, alcohol and drug misuse, homelessness, domestic abuse and mental wellbeing. Our Navigators are support workers with a combination of lived and professional experience. Two Navigators work in each hospital alongside the ED staff on busy weekend nightshifts to provide support to their target groups of patients while they are in department, and continue the support in the community following discharge from hospital.

Being present in the emergency department when patients arrive allows our Navigators to take advantage of the ‘reachable moment’ – a time when people have reached crisis point and may be ready to accept support and contemplate change. They aim to ultimately connect people with community support, both statutory and third sector, that will best meet their needs and help address some of the issues they face.

There is no comparable service in Scotland but there is a real need, in Renfrewshire and beyond, for this very person-centred approach.

During Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown period, the Navigators worked outside the hospital both in the community and via a helpline that allowed them to continue to provide support to new and existing patients referred by their ED colleagues. They often found themselves delivering essential supplies to those unable to leave home and supporting patients to online recovery meetings.

Following their return to hospitals in July they have been as busy as ever. Over the time they have been working, staff have noted numerous positive benefits of having them as part of the ED team noting the calming effect they have on patients who might otherwise be disruptive and the reduced attendances by some of the patients who received Navigator input who previously presented frequently.

Since they started work in RAH, Navigators Jim Houston and Selma Stockey have supported nearly 200 patients and some of the quotes below show just how much patients and their relatives value the service.

RAH Navigators have been locally funded for the past year by the Renfrewshire ADP and we have just received the good news funding has been secured funding for a further year with support coming from the Renfrewshire ADP and the Clyde Acute Sector.

At the same time, we sadly say goodbye to Navigator Selma who is leaving for a post nearer home in Ayrshire. She will be replaced by our newest Navigator, Danny Jack. You can spot Jim and Danny easily in the ED in their bright pink uniforms. We look forward to a further year working with a very supportive ED team.

Notes to editors:

  • The Navigator Project is run by the healthcare charity, Medics Against Violence, in partnership with the Scottish Government and local NHS health boards. It receives further support from the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit.
  • The project first launched in 2015 at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary emergency department. Over the last 5 years, it has expanded to seven different acute hospital sites across Scotland: Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow; Ninewells Hospital, Dundee; Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow; Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley; Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; University Hospital Crosshouse, Kilmarnock; and University Hospital Wishaw.
  • For further information about the Navigator project and press enquiries, please contact us directly.

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