Doug Oliver's first experience in health care came in his 20s. He was volunteering at a nursing home, helping older, isolated men shave, playing piano for them, and spending time with them.
“Even though I didn’t have any medical training at the time, I felt the power of what spending time with someone can do," Oliver says.
“To this day, I’m more convinced than ever that those things I learned early on are the most important in people’s lives.”
Oliver, now an associate professor of Family Medicine at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, is also co-lead of the team behind the Health TAPESTRY program, a multi-year, multi-site, primary-care based initiative.
Health TAPESTRY arranges for trained volunteers to visit older adults where they live. The volunteers ask questions related to their health and what matters most to them, then share the responses with the individual's health-care team so they may better understand how to work together to achieve these goals.
“The spirit of TAPESTRY is communities volunteering to help older adults, and primary care teams working together to empower older adults,” Oliver says. “The ultimate goal is for people to age optimally and independently, and to be living where they want to, whether that is their home or hospice or retirement home."