Niagara North FHT to Collaborate in Health Tapestry Program
Niagara-on-the-Lake has been chosen as the sixth site in Ontario to participate in the Health Tapestry program that assists people aged 70 and older stay healthy longer and remain in their homes.
The local program is a partnership between McMaster University’s department of family medicine, the Canadian Red Cross and the Niagara North Family Health Team. Initially started five years ago with a Health Canada grant, the program is now funded for the next few years by the province and a Hamilton resident.
The Red Cross will be training local post-secondary students and retirees who will team up for visits to people in their homes to help determine their health-care goals and needs and relay the information to their health-care providers.
Dr. David Price, chair and professor of the family medicine department at McMaster University, told town councillors Monday night that participants in the program have had less falls, are more active and made fewer hospital visits.
“We are intervening to improve their health care,” he said, and “get out in front of this, so they don’t end up in the hospital.”
After the meeting, Price said volunteers also benefit from participating in the program.
“For recent retirees, it’s a way of giving back,” he said. “They are also learning about their own journey, where (they) could be in a few years.
“The youth bring a different vision,” Price said. “They have a lot to offer.”
Starting in late January to early February, the program will be offered to town residents who are at least 70 years old whose family doctor is part of the town’s Niagara North Family Health Team.
Recruitment of volunteers, some of whom were members of the auxiliary at the former Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital, and at Niagara College and Brock University, has already started.
The executive director for the health team, Mary Keith, said there will be a soft launch of the program initially as many residents are away during the winter. She said patients who meet criteria for the program are being invited to participate with a target of about 100 by March.
People interested in volunteering for the Health Tapestry program are asked to contact Nelson Ruiz Blanco at the Red Cross at 905-522-8485 or at Nelson.RuizBlanco@redcross.ca. For more information, go to www.healthtapestry.ca.