Health PEI creates navigator position to support caregivers and families of children with complex needs

Health PEI is creating a navigator program for children with complex needs and their families living on Prince Edward Island. The need for this program was strongly demonstrated by a survey which showed more than 1 in 6 children under 18 on PEI have complex needs and an overwhelming majority of their families have difficulty accessing health services. 

“The survey helped us identify the number of children and youth in PEI who are currently using health care services and if their needs may be complex. With a better understanding of the children with complex needs population it allows us to further develop, improve programs and provide resources such as a patient navigator for children with complex needs accessing health care services.”

-  Health and Wellness Minister Mark McLane

Children with complex needs experience functional limitation due to a physical, developmental, behavioural or emotional condition, with at least two of the three health conditions demonstrated over a 12-month period. Health PEI gathered data over the summer of 2021. Highlights of the results include:

  • a total of 1,860 completed responses were collected, which account for 6.2% of the total target population
  • it could be estimated that there are about 5173 children with complex needs in PEI. This would account for about 17.3% of PEI children under the age of 18 having complex needs
  • approximately 84% of PEI children with complex needs have experienced difficulties accessing required health services in the past 12 months
  • almost all (97%) of the caregivers of children with complex needs expressed interest in services that would help them find and organize care for their children.

“Children with complex needs represent a small part of the population, and yet they use the health care system extensively,” said Colin Hood, Provincial Children with Complex Needs Coordinator for Health PEI. “There are so many factors that could stand in the way of them finding the help they need, including financial constraints and a sometimes complex or confusing set of health services. The survey shows these families need our help. A navigator position will help families to coordinate the care they need, determine how to best access the services that are available and help to develop new services that may be needed.” 

The survey and its findings could not have been completed without the assistance of community members and partners.

“We have had the privilege of working with families of children with complex needs who have said clearly to us this is an area that needs resources,” said Stephanie Gordon, Director of Public Health and Children’s Developmental Services at Health PEI. “It is because of their contributions and participation we are able to make this navigator position possible. We are also extremely grateful to our community partners who were able to ensure this survey was able to gather as much data as we could. Thank you to all.”

A search for a navigator for children with complex needs will begin this fall. For the full findings of the survey, visit: Health PEI Children with Complex Needs Survey.

Media contact:
Dave Atkinson
Senior Communications Officer, Health PEI

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