Health TAPESTRY program aims to keep seniors healthy and in their homes

June 16, 2018 - Hamilton Volunteer Coordinator, Nelson Ruiz Blanco, explains the role of Canadian Red Cross volunteers in connecting clients with their community to ensure they can stay healthy for longer at home.

HAMILTON - A new program that helps seniors improve their health and well-being is in need of volunteers.

Health Tapestry, a recent Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University initiative, is currently operating in four cities.

The program started in Hamilton in March and already has 230 clients.

However, there are only 24 active volunteers, says co-ordinator Nelson Ruiz Blanco. He says at least 40 volunteers are needed to serve those clients’ needs.

“It’s about connecting the client with the community and keeping the client as healthy as possible at home.” — Nelson Ruiz Blanco

“We always need more,” Blanco says.

Health Tapestry is a community-based program that is led by primary care teams. But first, clients must be interviewed in their homes by volunteers.

“Based on those answers, they develop a plan of care for them,” Blanco says.

“It’s a new approach because it is based on what is important for the client, not what is important for me as a physician," Blanco says. "We ask the client what are their goals — what they would like to achieve — and then Tapestry helps them achieve that goal.”

“It’s about connecting the client with the community and keeping the client as healthy as possible at home.”

For example, a senior might want to take up tai chi, learn to paint, or maybe their goal is to walk two kilometres without feeling tired.

After an action plan is developed for the client, volunteers may continue to visit to check if they are meeting their goals.

The department of family medicine at McMaster University started Health Tapestry Ontario last year. The $3-million project, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and former Ticats owner David Braley, will soon be offered in six areas across the province.

For more information, see or email Ruiz Blanco at

Source: Hamilton Mountain News, Gord Bowes.