Report to our community 2019-20

the ARC Navigation stakeholder group gathers in 2019, representing researchers, patients, community resource representatives, and healthcare providers

Care is within your community: Connecting patients with health and social resources

The Bruyère community extends far beyond the walls of our hospitals and residences. Our research provides evidence for clinical care across all our programs, supporting our patients so they can go home stronger and more independent.

Our patients’ journey through care doesn’t stop at the door, so neither does our research. Though there are many community-based resources and programs that can help address an individual’s health and social needs, many patients are unaware they exist. Even then, wading through these services and programs can be daunting and social challenges can quickly impede access.

What if there was someone to help guide you to (and through) those resources?

Building upon a $5 million, five-year international research program to increase access to primary health care for vulnerable populations, from 2015 to 2018, Bruyère researcher Simone Dahrouge, PhD launched a regional initiative. Her work within the Champlain Local Health Integration Network dove into the local community to better understand the barriers patients face and how they could be overcome.The Access to Resources in the Community (ARC) intervention was built off the collective input of patients with rich lived experience, physicians, resource providers, and health planners. ARC was implemented in primary care practices where providers would refer patients in need of assistance to ARC’s navigator: a dedicated bilingual individual whose role is to remove all possible barriers to services that may benefit a patient.

Over the past four years, the ARC navigation was studied in over 400 individuals across Ontario and has helped many access services and programs to help them achieve better health and wellbeing. Over the course of 2019, ARC went through its first randomized control trial, and today, these services are being deployed to help assist individuals in two communities, Merrickville-Wolford and North Dundas, to address needs related to the pandemic.


Natacha Ndihokubwayo sits at her desk with two screens 

Help comes in many forms. Can’t afford to pay for services? The navigator will find free services for individuals of low income. Can’t get to an appointment because you have kids at home? The navigator can find you childcare. Can’t find a therapist because explaining your needs is traumatizing? The navigator will call and vet mental health providers first. Afraid to try a service alone for the first time? The navigator can accompany you.

Whether it is language, time, finances, transportation, or even fear, ARC navigators seek ways to overcome individual and systemic barriers to care and optimize access to community resources for primary care patients.

Dahrouge’s team recently completed the trial, and the preliminary results are already showing the positive impact this program is having on addressing patient needs and patient experiences. ARC navigation is a valuable connection between Bruyère, primary care, and our patients.

“We received positive feedback from both patients and providers,” said Natacha Ndihokubwayo, Ottawa’s ARC navigator. “Patients felt reassured in receiving information about services that can address their health and wellbeing needs in their community, but also in having someone that could help them throughout the process of accessing those resources and be an advocate on their behalf. Patients appreciated not only the practical help, but the emotional support provided by the navigator.”

Transforming care for our community within our community can be as simple as connecting the dots. Ottawa is a rich hub of resources that we’re proud to be a part of as we navigate patient health together.