Talking about the impact of racism in our everyday practice “Racism in Health Care” (11:30 am, Thursday July 2/20)


Susan Obiorah’s experience as a care manager at one of the local community health centres and her work with the Royal’s  – Pathways to Better Care – system change efforts will sharpen the focus on how racism is manifested in care.  This event is organized by the Ottawa Hospital.

Our Healthy Conversations series continues this week, as we discuss racism in various areas of health care, including hospitals and community health-care settings.

Tune in LIVE on Facebook this Thursday, July 2 at 11:30 am as Suzanne Obiorah discusses her experiences of racism, and how it can impact community health care.

Stay tuned for more information and upcoming sessions!

Go to the live stream here:

Youth Survey to help guide social policy, 12-17 years old — Canada in 2020: A Youth Perspective

“The Association for Canadian Studies and Experiences Canada are inviting children between the ages of 12 and 17 to participate in this short online survey (6-8 minutes). ”

We are asking youth across the country how they feel about Canada, their personal identities, diversity, discrimination, as well how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the survey is to better understand how recent events are affecting youth to inform social policy. Your child’s participation in this survey is highly appreciated.

Go to Survey here

Long Term Care reform – our history meets the politics of policy

Pat Armstrong – leading researcher is interviewed by David Herle – leading political consultant with, high level questions and grounded in straight forward and nuanced answers.  How do you have both straight forward and nuanced answers on unrecognized and skilled work, taxes and implementation of workplace policy? The podcast is worth your time.

… Our special guest today is Pat Armstrong. Pat is a sociologist and distinguished Research Professor at York University, and a leading expert in eldercare. She, along with an international team, just published the report “Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care in the COVID-19 Crisis.” We’re going to take a deep dive into that issue. How did we get to this horrible place and what has to change from this point forward? …


Go to the podcast here:

 Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care in the COVID-19 Crisis

by: Pat Armstrong, Hugh Armstrong, Jacqueline Choiniere, Ruth Lowndes, and James Struthers

… In the long term, evidence suggests policymakers should more effectively integrate long-term residential care into the the public health care system, through federal legislation similar to the Canada Health Act, in order to develop a universal public long-term care plan that is accessible and adequately funded; stop privatization and promote non-profit ownership; ensure protective equipment is stockpiled for the future; build surge capacity into labour force planning and the physical structure of facilities; and establish and enforce minimum staffing levels and regulations. …

See the report here:

Launch of “Handbook of Social Work Practice Research”

For those of us working in the field of social work, this research network supports us to engage with the “data” we generate everyday and in turn advance analysis of our practice.

” … If it doesn’t come from practice and engage with practice, it will not have impact on practice. …”

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Practice Research is the first international handbook to focus on practice research for social work. Bringing together leading scholars in the field from Europe, the USA and the Asia Pacific region, it provides an up-to-the minute overview of the latest thinking in practice research whilst also providing practical advice on how to undertake practice research in the field.

It is divided into five sections:

  • State of the art
  • Methodologies
  • Pedagogies
  • Applications
  • Expanding the frontiers

The range of topics discussed will enhance student development as well as increase the capacity of practitioners to conduct research; develop coordinating and leadership roles; and liaise with multiple stakeholders who will strengthen the context base for practice research.

Learn more here:

I see social work practice research in the future going wherever social work practice is happening. I think we have got to embrace new situations and think of different methodologies that would relate to working in this space and that will have impact back on this space. The Handbook directs thinking into that space. It says there are multiple ways in which you can engage with complexity. … 

Co-editor Lynette Joubert 

See the Table of Contents here:


OASW announces reform of the organization, strengthening the local, by ending local branch structures and centralizing activities.

Ontario Association of Social Workers OASW, move to further reform the organization – strengthening the local, by ending local branch boards and activities to a more centralized approach.

Personally, I’m unsure what to make of it.  It truly is a challenge to bridge the local context and make relevant to the broader provincial and I would say national context.  At the provincial office, it must have been hard to seek out relevant solutions to the challenge with the competing pros and cons, strengths and weakness.

(Photo of: Eastern Branch 82nd Spring Gala & AGM)

I do feel the loss of a legacy, The Eastern Branch OASW, a group with a sharp local focus on social work policy and practice, in Ottawa. Over the years of my involvement with the Eastern Ontario OASW –the local side, I’ve very much appreciated the social workers I worked with -thoughtfulness, savvy, including those I felt on the opposite side of as we struggled to apply governance for our profession.

New & Innovative Structure to Support Local Member Engagement

…The most significant change to our local structure will be the elimination of Regional, Branch and Branch board structures that will support the launch of a Local Engagement Ambassador (ELA) program in 25 communities across the province. …

Please see the news release and background document – FAQ here:



Call for members of eastern branch OASW to learn and discuss the organizational changes

…” We want to open the board meeting to all our members. Beverlee, Lynn, Barbara and I will do our best to answer and clarify. Evelyn Weger, our provincial representative, will join us as well.

Please feel free to ask anyone who wants to join the Zoom meeting to email and I will send out the details on Wednesday morning.

Stay well, Wendy Birkhan, President, OASW Eastern Branch, On Behalf of the Board of Directors, Eastern Branch ”

“Nurses orders”… for Health Care Reform that aims for system change

During Nursing Week the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario share plan to give a system reform direction, via ECCO … 3.0 report released during nursing week.  Just what the Nightingale’s ordered for the emerging health teams approach in the age of Covid.

“My view you know is that the ultimate destination is the nursing of the sick in their own homes…I look to the abolition of all hospitals and workhouse infirmaries. But it is no use to talk about the year 2000.”

Florence Nightingale, 1867

(image from

“What is ECCO?

Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians (ECCO) calls on government and health system partners to strengthen community care and anchor the health system in primary care to better meet the health needs of all Ontarians. First released in 2012 and next in 2014, ECCO 3.0 aligns with much needed health system transformation that responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. “

See the report here:


Panic, worry and isolation in Covid times: Consumer/survivor/ex-patient community share… “hard won expertise”

From the Narrative Therapy crew… down under:

Lived wisdom on panic, worry and isolation:

Stories to support the community amid the COVID-19 crisis, from mental health service users, survivors and ex-patients.

…  Many of the experiences commonly navigated by folks who have had some experiences with mental distress mirror some of what’s going on around COVID-19, experiences that might be called panic or worry, which for many in the world may be new. These characters seem to be present in most media descriptions of the public right now as well as increasing instances of strongly enforced isolation. The latter many of us who have had contact with mental health services have experienced along a spectrum from discrimination induced lack of social contact to full on compulsory treatment, these are very different to what’s going on for folks self isolating.

So we called out for contributions of special knowledges around these things from our c/s/x community. This document contains the wisdom of thirty people’s experience with panic worry and isolation. …

Here is the document link:…qn-ETpDPBhgcFXpzmc6M

City of Ottawa “Human Task Force” … COVID 19 initiated and our neighborhood responses are key

We now have neighborhood based approaches emerging along with broader system planning and coordination to address the health and social realities of COVID 19.

How our formal services will bridge and cooperate with the local neighborhoods and organizations/people requires us to take the time to value the local context the people we work with have surrounding them. I’m looking forward to us all moving between our sectors, organizations to cooperation in everyday practice.

One example – Sandy Hill community:

Sandy Hill Community Response Team / L’équipe d’aide de la communauté de la Côte de Sable

 posted in: Uncategorized |

I’m sure many of you are feeling anxious about coronavirus. The Sandy Hill Community Response Team is here to help. Our team can introduce you to a neighbour who can help you get groceries, medication, or other basic necessities. We can also connect you with a friend if you need someone to talk to.
To request help or volunteer, please call us at 613-454-5633 or email . A member of our team will get
back to you within 24 hours.

We will get through this together as a community.

See their website:

  Here is an update from the City’s social services department.

…  o Plan for future scenarios, with considerations related to food security and vulnerable population needs, including housing, shelter and psychosocial supports.

o Coordinate service sector information related to services being provided, changes to services and emerging issues and needs.

o Raise issues, service gaps and community concerns to staff within Community and Social Services, other City departments and community partners for resolution. Partner and Stakeholder Initiatives staff are reaching out to the City’s 81 funded community agencies to obtain service delivery updates, assess needs and identify concerns for escalation to the Human Needs Tasks Force.

… A Human Needs Task Force has been struck as part of the City’s Emergency Management Plan and emergency response to COVID-19, ensuring we are responsive to the emerging needs of the community. This task force consolidates partners from all sectors, including United Way Eastern Ontario, Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa, Ottawa Community Housing, Ottawa Food Bank, The Good Companions, Canadian Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Ottawa Inner City Health, in addition to representatives from City departments, including Ottawa Public Health.

The scope of the task force is to: …

Please follow the rest of the post here:

Here is link to City of Ottawa page that is attempting to centralize information:



A few resources on use of ICT and teamwork that can help mental health workers teams, with practice changes

With the immediate shift for many of us out of our offices much less, the limits on our community and organizational based everyday work, these resources are meant to help us step back, reflect on our approach to work and then apply to practice.

Please share your own resources, ideas, stumbled upon, ICT resources, that help us in recovery recovery practices.

For me In this crisis, I’m trying to see how to bridge the medical measures, with these Recovery measures: “social connectedness; hope about one’s future, positive identity, meaningful goals and social roles and empowerment.” I think it is a great opportunity to work in this crisis, a crisis for both the clients and providers and keep learning about the recovery process.


With thanks to Stephen Downes website  for sharing resources on use of the internet for learning.

Virtual Teams: So you’ve just become a remote team leader … what next? Tips on adjusting

by Martin Hawksey

“… Whilst as a manager you’ll be able to use much of your existing expertise it is worth acknowledging that there are aspects of leading virtual teams that are different. In terms of change management having a week or less notice that you are becoming a distributed team is far from ideal. As such allowing your team to find their feet within a new environment is very important. You yourself will probably be in a similar position of working out some of the practicalities particularly if you are suddenly using new tools. You can use this to your benefit acknowledging your current limitations and inviting members of your team to share their own expertise. …”

Here is the link to the article:

Videoconferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All

by Daniel Stanford

“When we try to replicate classroom experiences in an online environment, it’s easy to think of video conferencing as our go-to tool for all sorts of learning objectives—and for good reason. Most of us have participated in a video conference at work or had a video chat with friends or family at some point. We like the idea of being able to see and hear our students while interacting with them in real time just like we do when teaching face to face. But there are two key factors that make this approach problematic. …”

Here is link to article:

… What can managers and HR professionals do to support employees?

by Center for Workplace Mental Health

With many organizations requiring employees to stay out of the office, it’s more important than ever to encourage and facilitate regular communication with employees. Here are tips for managers and human resource professionals in supporting employees in staying connected to the workplace and each other:

  • Show empathy and be available: Understand that employees are likely feeling overwhelmed and anxious about circumstances related to the virus. Make yourself available to your staff to talk about fears, to answer questions and to reassure them about work and other issues that might come up.
  • Stay connected with communication and meeting tools: Use virtual meeting options with video, like Zoom or JoinMe, for regular check-ins and to allow teams to connect with one another “face-to-face.”
  • Recognize the impact of isolation and loneliness: Working remotely can cause people to feel isolated, making it more important to routinely check in with your team, not only about their work product, but also to see how they are doing. Loneliness can lead to depression and other mental health issues. Be aware of significant changes you may see in your team member’s personality or work product, because it may be a sign that a person is struggling.
  • Encourage online training: This is a great time to encourage employees to sharpen their skills with online training. It is also a good distraction to focus on learning rather than worrying about other issues. Find online trainings and new learning opportunities to recommend to employees.
  • Check in with your EAP and Health Plan: Check in with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to confirm their availability and to coordinate support for employees. Remind the staff that the EAP is there if they need support and can connect employees with behavioral health support, if needed. Also, connect with the organization’s health plan(s) to learn what they are offering to support plan members and pass that information onto employees. Be sure to include all relevant website links and phone numbers for both the EAP and health plan in communicating with employees.”

Here is the link to the article:


Interview on the neuroscience and art of aging leads us to ponder on “power and potential”

A down to earth talk that provides a summative integration of the social and biological approaches to aging, but much more, an attitude.  Levitin’s approach is relevant to where ever we stand and making our way in society.

See the video of the interview with Steve Pakin -here