SWAG interactive Q&A on Dementia and Alzheimer’s practices & research

From Wendy Birkhan, on behalf of Social Work in Aging and Gerontology, Steering Committee SWAG

Renowned cognitive and behavioural neurology expert and researcher, Dr. Andrew Frank from Bruyère Memory Program, will provide an interactive Q&A on the topic of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  The latest innovations in Alzheimer’s research being conducted at the Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) will be discussed.

In addition, Helen Niezgoda (Research Operations Manager at the Bruyère Research Institute) will be providing an overview of dementia research currently underway at the Bruyère Research Institute and the importance and benefits of recruitment and community involvement.

Social Workers will learn practical and helpful information that they can provide to their clients and their caregivers.


(3 images of active seniors- a woman reading, a man biking, a woman walking with support from another woman from https://www.bruyere.org/ )

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 from 3:30 – 5 pm on Zoom.

You must register to attend.  Registration Link:

Contact SWAG here:

Dates for 2021/2022 SWAG meetings — Thursdays, all start at 15:30, all on-line

September 23/21
October 21/21
November 18/21
December 16/21 NEW month
January 20/22
February 17/22
March 17/22
April 21/22
May 26/22

“Ethics in Locality,” A case study in story form of systemic racism in the North American Academy

Douglas Rabb’s https://www.lakeheadu.ca/centre/chce/who-we-are/executive-committee/biography—d-rabb journal article Ethics in Locality: Confessions of a Not-So-Innocent Bystander,tells the story of Ojibwa philosopher, Dennis McPherson, a friend and colleague of the author, and his persistent efforts over the years to liberate Locality.”

… In this paper I raise the issue of systemic racism in the North American Academy. I discuss it in the context and with the help of a Native Narrative Ethics; hence the title, “Ethics in Locality.” The particular locality is Ojibwa country, Ojibwa Land, at the head of Lake Superior, at the head of the Great Lakes. The Academy I use as a kind of case study in story form is the Thunder Bay campus of Lakehead University in Northwestern Ontario

dennispicindian from the inside text0_

(images of: Dennis McPherson in gowned Lakehead graduation picture and the cover of the co-written book – “Indian from the Inside: Native American Philosophy and Cultural Renewal,” with a drawing of a turtle )

… Dennis McPherson has spent his academic career pushing back against this Eurocentric lamination, freeing locality to ooze up out of hiding, cracking and pushing aside the Eurocentric veneer laid down in the colonial lamination process. The goal is to liberate “the original and true locality of this land.” Dennis is constantly encouraging Lakehead University to live up to the Locality of its name, “Lakehead.” It is arguable that Universities like Ryerson and Dalhousie have more honest names. Don’t think of Dennis as merely speaking for Locality. We are dealing with a much more profound event than that. Dennis is Locality speaking for itself. …”

Ethics in Locality: Confessions of a Not-So-Innocent Bystander

Canadian Journal of Practical Philosophy Vol. 5, 2021: Practical Ethics: Issues and Perspectives

See article here:  https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/csspe/vol5/1/6/

Principles to support organizations to change their cultures, each day

Keith McCandless of Liberating Structures community of practice shared this post on principles to guide organizational changes on the Integration and Implementation Insights site. This set of principles and what not to do, is going to save having to sit through more and more trainings as the way to advance change and instead get us to everyday practice. The “must not’s are fun to read as well.

The “plug and play” set of resources for groups is easily and openly accessible as well.  https://www.liberatingstructures.com/ls-menu 

… Liberating Structures is based on ten principles that help guide choices and keep a community together while moving toward their set purpose.

Liberating Structures practice and principles come alive through active engagement. The path is co-evolving, iterative, and mutually shaped. As shown in the table below, each principle is couched as follows: When Liberating Structures are part of everyday interactions, it is possible to…

Each principle is accompanied by ‘Must Do’s’ and ‘Must Not Do’s’, also presented in the table below.

Must Do’s are practices to guide action and behavior. They are valued but not often practiced because conventional structures make it too difficult.

Must Not Do’s are common behaviors and practices that stifle inclusion, trust, and innovation. They are often unexamined habits so familiar that they are easily overlooked. …

See the article here: https://i2insights.org/2021/08/31/principles-for-inclusive-groupwork/

Ottawa community conversations on: grassroots and peer led organizations, grant writing, allyship with Indigenous Peoples

This initiative is from The Ontario Association of Social Workers https://www.oasw.org/Ottawa and Area. They aim to build dialogue on practice with zoom discussions and these events open to all, members or not!

OASW Ottawa & Area Presents:

Conversations with Grassroots and Peer-Led Organizations

When: Wednesday, Sept 1 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Where: Click here to directly join the Zoom on Sept 1st!

  • Meeting ID: 849 6710 6662
  • Passcode: 659292

 Engage in valuable conversations and learn from grassroots and peer-led organizations in Ottawa! We will be joined by speakers from Parents’ Lifeline of Eastern Ontario, a non-profit family peer support organization for parents whose children up to age 25 are facing mental health challenges; Upstream Ottawa, a community-based mental health services organization, and Mood Disorders Ottawa, a non-profit volunteer-run organization that supports people with mood disorders and their loved ones.

Everyone is welcome including social workers working in all sectors, social work students, and retired social workers. These monthly social worker gatherings occur on the first Wednesday of every month.

Upcoming Supper Club Event (6:30 pm to 8:00 pm):

  • October 6: Policy/Grant Proposal Writing Workshop


 Showing Up as Allies Monthly Gatherings

Join other social workers on Zoom to talk about what you can do as allies to Indigenous communities. Guest speakers will join to help explore the concept of allyship and deepen our understanding of the concept. Together, we will discuss how allies can help and how we can show up as social workers to support our communities. Learning in this space takes place through engaging in discussions with your colleagues and it may also mean that guest speakers may, at times, choose to listen to the conversation.


  • Monday, September 20 from 7 pm to 9 pm
  • Monday, October 18 from 7 pm to 9 pm

 Please note that by registering for the event, you will receive notifications for each monthly gathering, and we welcome you to join when you are available! In addition, you will receive follow-up emails that may contain resources and links that emerge from the conversation.


Some approaches to research that help to bridge social workers individual abilities or not, with the collective

Many of us in front line social work are interested in how we can advance and improve our practice and the deploy social work values to support clients, families and their communities through the building of evidence and knowledge.  We are doing this while working within organizations and services and although no surprise of course that we need to negotiate the waves of organizational priorities, cultures, methodologies and disciplinary hierarchies, it sure can be a lonely business.

You do need to have individual fire in the belly on a topic to start the climb in what feels like to me at least, a fractured learning and research culture what ever organization you are, in, much less for the profession of social work itself.  There is little balance between a clinician’s individual need and ability vs. the collective.  When I say balance, it means to me is interconnectivity and actual cooperation. 

There are shards of light – connection, with ultimate common ground but oh boy, do you have to deploy a community development process for it to work.  A practice based research approach and hews therein of the idea of research: evaluation, quality improvement, outcome measurement, ongoing learning, application/implementation of interventions, social work values and the search for a hypothesis, surround the aims of research for me.

Sorry, I had to mutter above,

Useful research resources, please consider sharing yours with us as well

  • The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Practice Research

Available via hospital and university libraries, learn more here: https://socialhealthpracticeottawa.wordpress.com/2020/05/30/launch-of-handbook-of-social-work-practice-research/

  • Martin Webber’s Social Work Research Podcast

…The podcast provides listeners with the opportunity to hear about research from researchers themselves and to find out a little more about them. It provides researchers with an opportunity to share their research findings with a wider audience and to highlight important features about it. A link to the full text of the research paper under discussion in each episode is provided for those wishing to extend their learning. …


  • (The British), Advice for Social Workers on Mental Health Research



  1. Social issues are a big focus in mental health research now.
  2. Our expansionist approach; we’re not looking for a diagnosis.
  3. Our experience of services and how they are delivered is in demand on project advisory groups.
  4. Co-production – a core principle in all applied health research now – is not new for us.
  5. We have skills in asking questions about sensitive topics.



  • Integration and Implementation Insights (also known as i2Insights)

  • Blog posts cover 11 major topics that underpin these approaches:

    •  change
    • communication
    • context
    • decision support
    • diversity
    • integration
    • participation (phased out after August 2021)
    • research implementation
    • stakeholder engagement (phased in after August 2021)
    • stakeholders (phased out after August 2021)
    • systems
    • teamwork (phased in after August 2021)
    • unknowns.


Asking the Holy See to support Reconciliation by accounting for their involvement in the implementation of residential schools for our government

I wrote a letter to the Pope to provide information to help with reconciliation.

June 26, 2021,  His Holiness, Pope Francis, Apostolic Palace, 00120 Vatican City

Dear Holiness,

I pray you are well. 

I am writing to request the Holy See provide to the Indigenous People’s information to help address the involvement of the Catholic Church in implementing the Canadian government’s residential school system.  This information will be one of the keys to Canada’s and Indigenous People’s work towards Reconciliation.

The request for information below are simply some of the items that have been identified by several leaders here in Canada and I realize that the Holy See, have official channels and governance bodies you will be engaging with to manage this information  rather than to a single individual.  A central body is the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. https://nctr.ca/


  • release all documents on residential schools in Canada
  • disclose how much money the Catholic Church was given by the Canadian federal government to run the schools
  • disclose how much money did the church make off of the exploitation of child labour in residential schools

With thanks to the Holy See’s efforts to help the Canadian Government achieve Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Bill Dare

Cc:  National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

A resource for strength based interventions

The British, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) https://www.scie.org.uk/ provides a set of training resources that take a community focused and care system wide approach at: individual and organizational levels with potential policy impacts if deployed well. Refreshingly, it incorporates but moves beyond the individual clinician.

A strengths-based approach…

… a simple phrase that has different meanings for different people but an approach
that when done right, opens up many possibilities.

A strengths-based approach can be used in any intervention, in any setting, with
any client group, including carers, and by any social or health care member of staff.

stength 2PNG

Please go to the site, here: 


A community dialogue on a community focused response to mental health crisis

A literature review by Nasra Hussein along with a range of presentations on practices provides a downstream view to developing a community and neighbourhood approach to mental health crisis’ in Ottawa. Cosponsored by:  Social Planning Council of OttawaMinwaashin LodgeCrime Prevention OttawaOttawa Black Mental Health Coalition and Ottawa Community Partnership for Health Equity. 

Reimagining Crisis Intervention: A Review of the Literature on Best Practices in Community-Based Crisis Intervention

Evidence shows that investment in community-based crisis intervention programs involving interagency collaboration between service providers can foster collective impact in reducing the exposure of PMIs to the criminal justice system. A community-based approach effectively supports PMIs with diversion, treatment, and recovery while connecting them to community resources such as health care, stable and affordable housing, mentoring, conflict resolution, trauma-informed care, and employment services. Such initiatives are structured to address the root causes of mental illness by providing a supportive environment to help people overcome their challenges and tackle their socio-economic and health issues.

This report provides information on:

  1. the impacts of the social determinants of health on mental health crisis intervention,
  2. barriers to effective crisis intervention based on the current system,
  3. facilitators for effective crisis intervention that support persons with mental illness, especially those who are racialized and disproportionately affected by traditional policing, and
  4. existing non-police and community-based crisis intervention models. …

Link to the report: https://ocphe.ca/shared-minds/

Speaker Series: Responding to Mental Health Crises: Learning from Models in Ottawa and Beyond

…In Ottawa, Canada and the U.S., there have been many successful models for responding to mental health crises. We invite you to this speaker series to learn what is currently being done in response to mental health crisis situations.

Each event in the series will feature one approach to a mental health crisis response, with a presentation highlighting how and why it was developed, how it works and the lessons learned. A Q&A will follow the presentation. …

Link to the Series: https://ocphe.ca/mental-health-crises-response/

Learn about the work of Ottawa’s Social Planning Council

The Annual General Meeting will provide a useful snapshot of the council’s work in Ottawa. https://www.spcottawa.on.ca/

spc group banner

(Image of people meeting and text describing purpose of the social planning council)

Join us for our 93rd AGM! Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcuf-upqzkiE9Ck7VEbRTOI3wXd1iH-S3Xt…

… 93rd Annual General Meeting!

…Learn all about our community work and impact, and also receive a live demo on our Neighbourhood Equity Index (NEI) Tool! #SPCOttawa

Wednesday May 26 6:00-8:00 pm via zoom

Bringing a service provider lens to the development of the Ottawa Anti-Racism Secretariat initiatives via SWAG

From Wendy Birkhan, on behalf of Social Work in Aging and Gerontology, Steering Committee SWAG.
Yusra Osman, Anti-Racism Specialist will lead the presentation. The presentation will provide an overview of the Anti-Racism Secretariat and its initiatives and engagement plan.
—we will aim for a 15 minute presentation to allow for the opportunity for discussion with the members on feedback they have from their service provider lens that can help guide the creation of the Anti-Racism Strategy for the City.
ars banner

Thursday, 20 May 2021 from 15:30 EDT-17:00 EDT, via zoom

Please note, this  includes getting the zoom links to SWAG meetings via: