How long will you live? The link between Poverty and Health

Does it make sense to prescribe diaper cream to a baby with a chronic rash, when the real cause of the problem is that his mother can’t afford to buy diapers and change him regularly?

This is a fascinating show on the connection between poverty, health and life expectancy on CBC’s “Project Money”.  It features Dr Gary Bloch, a family doctor with St. Michael’s  Hospital in Toronto who is also the chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ Committee on Poverty and Health.

Click here for the podcast

Dr Bloch is also the author of a March 20, 2013 Globe and Mail article entitled: “As a doctor, here’s why I’m prescribing tax returns. Seriously”

In this piece, Dr Bloch writes: “The link between health and income is solid and consistent – almost every major health condition, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental illness, occurs more often and has worse outcomes among people who live at lower income. As people improve their income, their health improves. It follows that improving my patients’ income should improve their health.”

This is an important discussion that we all need to be part of. It also suggests that front line workers, physicians, nurses, social workers etc. should always ask about a patient’s financial situation and become more aware of the resources available in the community.

Dr Bloch also believes in advocating for larger scale societal changes: ”As doctors we need to, and we can, prescribe income while advocating for real, effective policies to combat poverty.”

How refreshing and inspiring!

Book Review: Bringing it Home


Tilda Shalof is a Toronto-based ICU nurse who combines critical care nursing with a very successful writing career. Shalof has authored more than five books, including the best-seller A Nurse’s Story.  All of her books explore an aspect of nursing, from critical care to camp nursing to being a cardiac patient herself. I have often found myself devouring her latest work in a single sitting as her writing is conversational and very engaging.

In her most recent work, Bringing it Home – A Nurse discovers health care beyond the hospital, Shalof was commissioned by the Victoria Order of Nurses (VON) to take a tour of some of the home care services they provide across the country. This fascinating and sometimes poignant road diary left me in awe of these invisible and unsung nurses who work with the most neglected members of society. Shalof herself begins the book by candidly confessing that at first, she lacked enthusiasm for this assignment and had to be convinced to take it on. I mean, let’s be honest, for an ICU nurse, home care nursing is not high up on the list of sexiest jobs! But over time, Shalof’s eyes are opened and she concludes her road trip with a new appreciation for the crucial role these nurses play in supporting all of us, at one point in our lives.

Shalof contrast what she sees daily in hospitals to what she witnessed in home care:

There are so many things that still make no sense to me in the hospital. like the waste we create and the excessive use of technology; the restricted visiting hours and the no-pet policy. The fact that patients aren’t invited to participate in team rounds about their own care. Why aren’t people allowed – no, encouraged, to read their own charts? [...] Why are there nurses and doctors who don’t talk kindly – or at times even courteously – to patients, or who can’t find it in themselves to sit down and simply listen to what the patient has to say? [...] Why is there so much waiting in hospitals, and if you do have to wait, why can’t someone come out and tell you why and how much longer you’ll still have to wait, and maybe even do it with a smile? [...] in all of my travels outside the hospital, in all of my visits to homes, clinics, community centres, I saw patient care that was governed by logic, fairness and common sense, administered with kindness and goodwill – not to mention fiscal responsibility and restraint. More please.

This book presents a stark account of the realities of ageing for some many patients who do not have money, or family to care for them. It also highlights a whole host of skills and duties that most of us would not associate with VON: street outreach, pregnancy support, drug and alcohol support and many other invisible acts of kindness and assistance.

Kudos to Tilda Shalof for showing us the beautiful side of these talented, compassionate nurses.


Fall 2014 Workshop for Managers: Guide to Stress, Burnout and Trauma in the Workplace

Growing Volume of Work…More Complex Cases…

Shrinking Budgets…Overwhelmed and Stressed-Out Staff…

What can you do, as a manager?

overworked businessman

Develop strategies to address STRESS and TRAUMA in your workforce

Join us for 2 days of hands-on, concrete tools for Managers working in High Stress, Trauma-Exposed settings 

An intensive 2-day program with Dr Patricia Fisher, R.Psych., L.Psych. Canada’s leading expert in trauma-exposed environments.

September 23-24, 2014

9:00am-4:30pm (registration 8:30am)

Royal Botanical Gardens, 680 Plains Road West, Burlington, Ontario.

**Spaces limited to 25 participants – register early**

Click here for more information


Click here to download Flyer


Brought to you by Compassion Fatigue Solutions

Summertime reads, recipe and an invitation to stay in touch


Here’s a quick post for you today with three items: new reads, a recipe and an invitation…

It’s finally summer!  This is hopefully a time for you to slow down a bit, enjoy the beautiful weather, have a picnic, maybe go to a local market or outdoor music festival on your day off.

June was a very busy time for me, starting with the wonderful Care4You conference (photos will be posted next week!), a work trip the Florida Panhandle,  and a trek to England to visit family and friends.

Needless to say that by July 1st, I felt the need for a little r&r after all of this excitement.

Whenever I finish a hectic time and need to refuel, I try to go back to the basics: get more sleep, eat more greens and less carbs, ditch the caffeine and get more exercise. Those simple things help keep me grounded, and when I go too long without them I start feeling tired, unwell and irritable. So I went back to read my favourite healthy eating blogs and spent a bit more time in the kitchen juicing and making homemade meals. I came across this weird and wonderful gluten-free bread recipe that I will share with you below. There are also some newly published compassion fatigue articles to recommend, for your time in the hammock!

1) New Reads on Compassion Fatigue

I just had two new articles published and a book chapter which I co-wrote with my colleague Leslie McLean from Capital Health Cancer Care, in Halifax.

For Family Caregivers: When the Juggling Act Isn’t Working: 5 Key Strategies to Reduce Compassion Fatigue and Burnout. Click here

For nurses: Occupational Hazards: Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma and Burnout. Click here.

New Book Chapter: Managing Compassion Fatigue, Burnout and Moral Distress in Person and Family Centered Care Click here


2) Healthy Eating, Cool Gluten-Free Bread Recipe

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I am a big fan of healthy eating and enjoy reading food blogs for pleasure. My two current favourites are Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw, a New York nutritionist, and My New Roots, a beautiful whole food blog by Sarah B. a Canadian who now lives in Denmark but recently spent 6 weeks in Bali (yes, I know, tough). What I like about these bloggers is that they propose easy, fresh recipes without dogma.

Sarah B. posted a crazy-sounding gluten-free bread recipe last year, called “The Life Changing Loaf of Bread” which may seem like a rather bold statement. I was intrigued, but did not have time to gather the ingredients to try it out until yesterday. Well, what a success! This produces a very dense, toastable seed bread. Not suitable for sandwiches but perfect for toasting. Fantastic! Click here for a the link to the recipe.

3)  Join the anti-spam brigade, and make sure you stay on our mailing list!

Finally, an important note to any of you on my mailing list. If you are a Canadian reader, you will likely have been deluged by emails lately from all sorts of businesses asking you to confirm that you wish to continue receiving their emails. A new anti-spam legislation became effective july 1st, 2014 and if you do not confirm your desire to receive emails from us, we will have to remove you to comply with the regulation. So please take a minute to click on the “confirm” button in the email we sent you recently.  Thanks!

Now, I’m going to go watch some tennis and World cup soccer and drink some romaine, cucumber fennel juice. (It sounds weird but it tastes great.)

Here’s wishing you a lovely summer!

New Book Chapter – Managing Compassion Fatigue, Burnout and Moral Distress

Person and Family Centered Care

Hot off the press! Leslie McLean and I have a chapter in the newly released book Person and Family Centered Care by University of Pennsylvania’s Dr Jane Barnsteiner and colleagues. Here are some comments from reviewers:

Written by top thought leaders in nursing today, Person and Family-Centered Care offers a new approach that emphasizes the person as partner, embraces the family, and encompasses all care delivery locations. At the forefront of this movement are authors Jane Barnsteiner, Joanne Disch, and Mary K. Walton, who present a surprisingly practical clinical reference covering a vast array of patient-care scenarios, together with effective strategies for achieving optimal outcomes. This ground breaking text is a complete resource that ensures the needs of patients, families, and caregivers are met. Published by Sigma Theta Tau International.


Full reference: Mathieu, F., & McLean, L., (2014) Managing Compassion Fatigue, Moral Distress and Burnout in a context of patient-centered care in Walton, M., Barnsteiner, J., & Disch, J. (eds) Patient/Family Centered Care – Patient and Care Provider Considerations, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Un risque du métier: l’usure de compassion chez les infirmières


Auteur: Françoise Mathieu

Cliquez ici pour télécharger cet article, publié dans la revue “Infirmière Canadienne” en Juin 2014.

New Article on Family Caregivers and Compassion Fatigue

When the Juggling Act Isn’t Working: 5 Key Strategies to Reduce Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

Françoise Mathieu has a new article on Compassion Fatigue in caregivers. Recently published in The Family Caregiver NewsMagazine, free, courtesy of the South East Community Care Access Centre.

family caregiver

Click here to download



Occupational Hazards: Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma and Burnout




New Reads! Françoise Mathieu has a new article on Compassion fatigue published in the June 2014 issue of Canadian Nurse.

Click here to download.

Slides from June 2014 Care4You Conference

What a wonderful two days! thanks to all of you who joined us at last week’s Care4You Compassion Fatigue Conference in Kingston. In the coming weeks, we will post photos as well.












In the coming days, we will be posting the slides from the conference here. Come back if the talk you are looking for isn’t posted yet, and we hope to see you next year!

Compassion Fatigue 101 with Françoise Mathieu – Click here for slides

Care4Your Body Care4You with Lynda Pedley – Click here for slides

Rethinking Compassion as Moral Stress with Donna ForsterClick here for slides

Nutrition: The Fuel for Mental Health with Jess Sherman – Click here for slides

Managing Compassion Fatigue with Mindfulness and Self Compassion with Robin Beardsley - Click here for slides

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster with the Patient  with Jennifer Juneau – Click here

Embracing Gratitude with Cathy Mosole – Click here for slides

Irest, Yoga Nidra with Bill McLaughlin – Click here for slides

Oxygen for Caregivers with Simon Fox – Click here for slides and here for handouts

Improving Morale by Supporting Each Other with Romney Pierog – Click here for slides

Improv your Outlook with Mary Harvey – Click here for slides

Education for Next-Generation Frontline staff with Karen Mayer – Click here for slides

Upcoming Events May-June 2014

Here are several exciting training events coming up in the next few weeks!

Walking the Walk – Toronto, May 27, 2014


Françoise Mathieu will be in Toronto on May 27, 2014 offering the one day workshop Walking the Walk: Creative Tools for Transforming Compassion Fatigue for the Hincks Dellcrest. Registration for this event is now open. Registrants will receive a copy of Françoise’s book: “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook” at registration.  For more information, please click here

Laughter Yoga – Kingston, June 2, 2014

Sylvie-circle-bgA full day “Playshop” with Laughter Yoga Practitioner Sylvie Dagenais-Douville where participants will learn the value of laughter as an exercise that can enhance energy levels and keep you cheerful and fit. To laugh without any reason and to be able to practice laughter exercises at any time. How to change their mood by doing these laughter exercises, thereby bringing a change in their attitude towards others. This will also help them to cope with difficult and challenging situations with a positive frame of mind. To release negative emotions and bring about an emotional balance for better relationships with colleagues in the workplace and with family at home. How to apply the wisdom of laughter yoga to bring more laughter and joy in their workplace. No yoga experience necessary to participate!

Click here for more information and click on “Preconference Events”


Care4You: The Fourth Annual Compassion Fatigue Conference, Kingston, June 3-4, 2014



This year, we have a record number of registrants! Join us for two days of connection, learning and refuelling.  Keynote speakers Meaghan Telpner, Nutritionista and author of “Undiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health” and Dr David Posen, author of “Is Work Killing You?” and “The Little Book of Stress Relief.” Limited seats are still available. Click here for more information