When we talk about escorts here, we mean non-medical people who come with you to some or all of your appointments or treatments.   The policy of the Government of the NWT has been criticised for being unclear and too narrow and at the moment is being reviewed. New guidelines are expected later in 2015.

Guidelines say the government will pay for a non-medical escort where the patient:

  • Is over age 65 or under 20, or
  • Has difficulty caring for themselves, or
  • Needs an interpreter, or
  • Has cancer and is going for an appointment for:
    • Diagnosis, or
    • First consultation to discuss treatment plan, or
    • First consultation with oncology, radiation or chemotherapy if personal care is needed.
Who can be an escort?
  • The escort can be anyone you choose. It is usually a friend or family member who you trust and can rely on to give you practical help and emotional support.
  • If you do not have anyone to act as escort, someone else may be able to help in some circumstances, such as – in Yellowknife – a liaison worker from Stanton Hospital.

It is best if your escort is someone who is not afraid of hospitals or medical treatments and feels able to ask questions of doctors.

What does the escort do?
  • Help with transportation to and from appointments.
  • Take notes at appointments, help you remember to ask questions and / or ask questions for you.
  • Interpret where necessary.
  • Care for you after treatment, and during the journey home.

You and the escort should discuss in advance what you want them to do.  For example, go through with them the list of question you have for the medical team and give them a copy.

How to get an escort paid to come with you:

  • Ask your healthcare worker for an escort when you first make your application for travel.
  • Many women also feel they need an escort if they are travelling for surgery. Be sure to ask for this as soon as you know you need surgery.
  • If you feel you need an escort later in your cancer journey (eg: for a later chemotherapy appointment because of side effects), ask your healthcare worker at that stage.
  • If you feel you need an escort but it may not fit with the guidelines you can still ask, your healthcare worker will need to ask the Medical Travel manager.

Being an escort is a big responsibility for your family member or friend.  Your healthcare worker can help them prepare for your appointments and / or advise them how best to help you afterwards.