The Volunteer Role

Definition of a “Health TAPESTRY Volunteer”: a trained community member who provides services to a Health TAPESTRY project without compensation



  • Have distinct but complementary roles from paid employees
  • Are not intended to replace the work of paid employees, but rather to add to the care being provided in novel ways
  • Do not work as part-time paid staff equivalents
  • Are not deployed to replace paid employees during labour disputes


  • The program has clear objectives and involves individuals in meaningful ways
  • Recruitment and selection may come from a variety of recognized sources (e.g. colleges, universities, social agencies, professional colleges, diverse sources within the community)
  • Individuals receive an orientation to the program and its policies and procedures, and receive appropriate training for their participation
  • Individuals receive adequate levels of supervision according to their participation and are given regular opportunities for feedback
  • Individuals are welcomed and treated as valuable additions to the primary care team


Volunteers may be expected to:

  • Complete and submit a volunteer application form
  • Complete a face-to-face interview
  • Provide references
  • Provide a Vulnerable Sector police report
  • Sign a Volunteer Waiver & Confidentiality Agreement
  • Complete a 2-step TB test
  • Show evidence of annual influenza vaccination
  • Be able to communicate clearly in English or French. Other language skills  considered an asset
  • Be able to travel within the community to do client home visits, and therefore must have reliable transportation (personal or public transit). Valid driver’s license and access to a vehicle is an asset
  • Be at least 18 years of age

*May change based on setting

Volunteer Duties – Hamilton site example

  • Take part in in-person training
  • Complete the online Volunteer Learning Centre (VLC) training modules
  • Make home visits to clients with a volunteer partner
  • Assist clients in completing non-invasive screening tools and personal goal identification
  • Communicate with volunteer coordinator, clinic sites, and/or community-based organizations
  • Use various technology (e.g. the TAP-App, kindredPHR, GENIE, the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal), and troubleshoot this technology for clients as needed
  • Provide social connection to clients in the community
  • Engage in optional focus groups or qualitative interviews

Description of the Role – Hamilton site example

  • Volunteers work in pairs (one experienced volunteer with over 2 years of experience and one novice volunteer with less than 2 years of volunteer experience)
    • The experienced volunteer profile may include retired teachers, nurses and other allied health professionals
    • The novice volunteer profile may include university and college students with an interest in pursuing a career in health care
  • Client home visits will take an average of 60 minutes (not including travel time) but can range from 30 minutes to 120 minutes, depending on the client

During a client home visit, a volunteer pair:

  • Identifies themselves as extensions of the client’s primary care team
  • Gathers information from the client through a series of questionnaires on the TAP-App, using a tablet computer (e.g. iPad)
  • Provide a social connection to clients by engaging in a friendly manner
  • Connect clients with community resources and supports they may be interested in