A new approach to health – ‘TAPESTRY’ pilot aims to help people stay in their homes

December 13, 2017 - Health TAPESTRY received a $1.5 million Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care grant to implement Health TAPESTRY in six new communities.

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE — Local patients of the Niagara North Family Health Team should not be surprised if they get visitors at their doors in the coming months.

They’ll be there to help.

As part of a province-wide implementation of a home-health program started five years ago with a Health Canada grant, specially trained volunteers managed by the Red Cross will visit patients in their home, where they’ll ask questions about their life, health goals and needs, recording the answers digitally.

The answers will be forwarded to the patients’ health care team, who then create a care plan. The volunteers will then follow up with the patient to help them implement the plan and connect them to other resources in the community if needed.

In a presentation to town council Monday night, David Price, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University, said the so-called Tapestry approach is being implemented in centres across Ontario. This includes Hamilton, where about 100 paired volunteers — a younger person teamed with a more mature volunteer — have conducted some 650 visits since the program began.

“That’s a significant amount of outreach into the community,” Price said, explaining he’s learned more from the information he’s been sent from volunteers who have sat in his patients’ homes and talked about their lives over a cup of tea than he had by being their family doctor for years.

Price said that as a result of these sessions, volunteers and the family health teams are able to identify issues in patients, many who declare themselves to be perfectly healthy, and get them the help they need before the problems worsen.

“They have less hospitalizations,” he said of the patients. “We are actually intervening and improving their health care.”

The program will begin in the new year, and is being funded by a $1.5-million Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care grant. Price said a philanthropist matched the provincial funding to allow them to conduct a robust evaluation.

Tanya Elliott, vice president, Ontario, for the Canadian Red Cross, said the key focus of the program is keeping seniors in their homes longer. She said the information gathered by the volunteers will help create a “holistic” picture of the client.

Price said that as patients start to inform his team of what they want and require to stay healthy, he’ll be able to determine if there are a significant number of people asking for services not currently available.

Source: Niagara this Week, Mike Zettel.