Community navigators

Patients and professionals alike often find it difficult to find our way around the many and varied local health, social care and voluntary services that are there to help us. 

GPs describe their frustration at not being able to manage the complexity of what may be available.  Often people only find out about services that are available just around the corner years after they might have benefited from them. 

Commissioned and jointly funded by NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group and Hertfordshire County Council, the Community Navigator Scheme was set up in 2014 to overcome these problems.  Their role is to make sure that vulnerable people or those who are unsure or anxious find the right service to help them.  Community Navigators can:

  • support people to access the voluntary sector
  • work alongside health and social care partners and providers and connect people to appropriate voluntary sector support in their community (this could be in addition to any formal professional help they are receiving)

So what do they do exactly?

Herts Help was developed as a telephone service for local people to find out about all the different local organisations that could help them. The Community Navigators work closely with Herts Help, and compliment their work by taking referrals of people who need the Herts Help service, but are unable or unlikely to access it over the telephone.

The Community Navigators work with those people who may have a range of different support needs to help them establish sustainable relationships with the services that can help them, enabling them to feel more supported in their community, and thus less likely to access health professionals for non-clinical needs. GPs, along with health and social care professionals and voluntary sector organisations can refer people to the Community Navigators.  Herts Help can refer to the service too.

Community Navigators can also work alongside professionals providing a package of care to an individual to ensure they receive community support from voluntary organisations which will complement the formal support they are getting.

Community Navigators are local experts in voluntary sector  services in their “patch” and we have five –one for each District or Borough Council area  – so they have detailed local knowledge of what is available to people.

This detailed knowledge is further supported by the Navigators’ employment arrangements as each is employed by a local voluntary sector host organisation (a charity or consortium of charities) that has excellent connections and networks locally.

You can read an example of how Community Navigators helped one family by clicking here.

To find out more about Community Navigators please get in touch with Paul O'Hare, Team Manager on 07917 053713. You can find out more about the structure of the team and the representatives in your area by clicking here. 

Community navigator service - update

In the first year after its launch (November 2014), the Community Navigator Scheme has taken a large number of referrals from a wide range of health, social care and voluntary sector professionals. The scheme has a team of six Community Navigators working across all of the localities in West Hertfordshire. They have an excellent understanding of the different voluntary and community sector organisations that are able to provide support to vulnerable people in their own community, ensuring that those people referred to the scheme remain well and independent.

The scheme builds upon the Herts Help infrastructure, working with individuals and families who are unable to contact Herts Help directly on 0300 123 4044. The Community Navigators spend time with people who need additional help and support. They understand people’s needs and the requirements that they have in relation to non-clinical, non-statutory sector support. They will provide supported referrals to those organisations that are best positioned to support the problems that person faces. The Community Navigators will help to establish sustainable relationships with the different community based schemes, services and organisations that are available in West Hertfordshire. Often this might involve linking someone with several different voluntary sector organisations who can support a person with the range of different needs that they have.

Over the first year of the scheme we have seen:

  • 944 referrals
  • 44% of referrals have been made by GP surgeries
  • 17% of referrals have been made by Social Care
  • Over two thirds of Herts Valleys GP Surgeries have made referrals to the scheme
  • When non-GP referrers have offered details of the GP surgery that people are registered at, 97% of Herts Valleys GP surgeries have been represented.
  • Initial wellbeing data captured via SF12 shows that emotional wellbeing of those people referred to the scheme is improving following the Community Navigator intervention.

To make a referral to Herts Help or Community Navigator Scheme please complete a referral form and email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax it to: 0300 4562365.

For information:

Watch the video of Dr Marie Anne Essam talking about the Community Navigator Scheme at its launch last year. You can watch more videos about the Community Navigator Scheme.

HertsHelp is a countywide single point of access to information, advice and support available through the many voluntary organisations in Hertfordshire.  The service triages clients so that they can find out about services they would never have thought to ask about.  The service also allows busy professionals to signpost refer without having to know the detail of what may be available.