Many people find difficulty accessing the health system as the health system is complex, has its own language that can be hard to understand (and remember), and with increased workloads staff have less time to spend with patients

A person in the role of health navigator can help people to access and appropriately utilise the health system, find additional resources to both inform and support the person, help the person access and evaluate information on health, and can be an advocate for the person in the system.

One of the roles of a Faith Community Nurse is being a health navigator. Modules 11 Assessing and Accessing Resources and 12a Advocacy in the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course explore these topics in more depth.

Click here for more information on Care Coordination.

Accessing resources

Resources include information, equipment, and services that can promote, maintain, or improve health.

If part of your role is navigating the health system, it can help to gather recourses from your local area, as well as state and national resources into a database for easy reference. Click here for a list of ideas to consider, information to note about services and some tips on organising the information.


Another particularly powerful area of potential for parish nurses is the area of patient advocacy. As poverty, powerlessness, lack of education and lack of access to resources are such major determinants of health care, linking people with available resources and standing up for patient rights will gain significance.”

Emeritus Professor Dr. Anthony Radford

The main goal of advocacy is to promote self-efficacy, self-care, self-determination and empowerment. The personal control and independence of the person is protected and sustained by supporting and or upholding their right to make a choice and act on that choice. Click here to read more about advocacy

Health Literacy

Health literacy is more than the person being able to understand information about their health, it includes being able to navigate the health system. The WHO Shanghai Declaration provides a commitment to health literacy as a way to empower and improve equity.

‘Only about 40% of adults have the level of individual health literacy they need to be able to make well-informed decisions and take action about their health. Some of the impacts of low health literacy can include:
• difficulty understanding health information
• not taking medications correctly
• poorer knowledge of health conditions
• less use of preventive health services, like screening or vaccinations
• more visits to hospital
• poorer health status.1’

Read more:  Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care brochure ‘Health Literacy: A summary for clinicians’

Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care, Health Literacy

Teach Back is a tool for health professionals to test how well they are communicating with patients. Click here to learn more.

FCN’s may provide health promotion and management material to clients. For some hints on writing material see below

Resources for writing health material

Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care, Fact Sheet 4 Writing health information for consumers 

Canadian Public Health Association, Easy does it! Plan language and clear verbal communication. Training manual



Photo credit: Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash