Compassion Fatigue in Healthcare: Insight from the Frontlines

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Care4You Conference June 3-4th, 2014

Compassion Fatigue in Health Care: Insight from the Frontlines


Working in health care has become more complex in the past decade: a rapidly ageing population, decrease in resources, increased workload from a perfect recipe for overload, burnout and compassion fatigue. In this plenary presentation, 3 nurses join forces to share their combined 50+ years of experience in caring for patients and discuss what they have learned about the importance of caring for each other.

Riding the emotional rollercoaster with patients

Jennifer Juneau, RN, Life Coach

Courage Coach

Jennifer Juneau has been a Registered Nurse for 18 years with combined experience in the Operating Room, fertility and women’s health. She recently became a Solution Focused Life Coach and specializes in fertility coaching and health and wellness coaching.

Education for next-generation frontline staff

Karen Mayer, RN, BEd, MAEd

Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board

Karen Mayer is a Registered Nurse with 30 years of healthcare experience in both hospital (Chronic Care, Maternity and ER) and was co-owner of a private, thriving home care business for seven years. She returned to school twelve years ago to obtain BEd and MAEd and has been teaching Personal Support Workers (PSWs) at Loyola School of Adult and Continuing Education for the past ten years. As a twelve year member of the Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators (CESBA), she has been Chair of the PSW committee for the past three years. Having experienced Compassion Fatigue, Karen developed a bucket list. Multi-tasker that she is, she knocked off two items from her bucket list, working in a mission and working with Patch Adams by completing a mission trip to Guatemala with Patch Adams.

Improving Morale by Supporting Each Other

Romney Pierog, RN

Kingston General Hospital

Romney Pierog has been a frontline Registered Nurse for 15 years with over 11 years in critical care experience. She currently works at Kingston General Hospital. She also has a degree in English literature and psychology from Carleton University.

Romney is currently working on a project where she has been interviewing frontline staff, management and patients on morale and satisfaction. She is looking at improving morale by improving communication and by recognizing the obstacles posed by stress, compassion fatigue and burnout.

 Click here for more info about the conference

A call to action: Help the Children of Syria to prevent a lost generation

Can we help prevent a new cycle of violence in Syria and the Middle East?

I don’t know if you had a chance to read Mark MacKinnon‘s very disturbing account of the current fate of Syria’s displaced children in Saturday’s Globe and Mail (“Why Young Syrian Refugees Will Haunt the Middle East for Decades to Come” Sept 14, 2013), and if you are affected by traumatic details, you may not want to as it is quite graphic. One of the refugee camps, the Zaatari camp in Jordan, is currently housing over 130 000 displaced Syrians in one sun-scorched site. That’s more people than the entire city of Kingston, where I live. Over 50% of those refugees are under 18, and they are struggling with post traumatic stress, and meagre resources. Many of them are acting aggressively towards each other and adults, and have few resources to cope with the unspeakable violence they have seen and experienced in their short lives.

McKinnon write that donations to Syrian refugees have been slow:

Despite the best efforts of a badly underfunded Unicef, only a third of the 180,000 school-age Syrians living in Jordan (the total refugee population is 600,000) were in classes this week as the new semester began. Similar statistics apply to the broader population of Syrian refugees throughout the Middle East.

Unicef relies heavily on the private sector, which covers about 40 per cent of the cost of schools and sanitation centres it runs in crisis areas. But with Syria’s refugees, private donors appear reluctant, thus far making a mere 6 per cent of contributions to Unicef’s region-wide appeal. So just over half of the $470-million being sought for Syrian refugee children this year has been raised. Aid workers suspect donors view Syria, unfairly, as a political problem, rather than a humanitarian one.

As a result, UNICEF classrooms have only 14,000 spots for Zaatari’s 30,000 school-age kids. (Another 30,000-plus kids are under 6, with 10 newborns arriving every day in the camp’s hard-pressed hospitals.) And the learning environment is far from ideal. School No. 2 is a collection of 70 portable classes surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. There’s no electricity, so no fans or air-conditioning in the blazing desert sun, and water reaches the toilets and sinks only sporadically.

Please consider donating to Unicef for this important cause.

Making Workplace Conflict Work for You: Three Key Strategies

By Meaghan Welfare, Conflict Management Practitioner


In today’s workplace we can be certain of only three things: there will be change, there will be stress and there will be conflict. It’s inevitable. As we navigate through our work days, we are confronted with conflict on different scales: perhaps someone drank the last cup of coffee and didn’t make more, maybe someone jammed the photocopier and walked away, or maybe you are experiencing bullying and harassment. The fact of the matter is that conflict has an ubiquitous influence on our working relationships. A recent survey conducted by CPP Global found that employees spend an average of 2.8 to 3.3 hours a week dealing with conflict, (low level and un-escalated conflict) and human resource workers spend upwards of 51% of their week addressing conflicts. A 1996 study demonstrated that 42% of a manager’s time is spent on conflict-related negotiations.

So, the million dollar question…What can we do about this?  While conflict is never truly preventable, we can learn effective approaches for maximizing positive outcomes and harnessing conflict to make it work for us.

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Need a few minutes’ break? Watch this TED Talk

A friend of mine recommended Ron Finlay’s TED talk on planting gardens in South Central LA.  If you are feeling tired, or need a few minutes off from your work, go watch this. Moving and inspiring: Guerilla Gardener

How will you navigate the changing landscape of your work?

Has your work changed?

Is there more stress and uncertainty in your job than there used to be?

 Road Ahead Unclear copy

57% of Canadians report high levels of stress

 1/3 Canadians put work first and let it interfere with family

(Duxbury & Higgins, 2012)


In 1991, according to the Duxbury study on work-life balance, 46% of Canadians reported being satisfied with life. In 2012, it has plummeted to 23%. As many of you know first-hand, the recent economic downturn has led to significant budgetary compressions in the public purse. As a result, many of us working in the helping fields and in the civil service have experienced massive changes: layoffs, reorganizations, job abolitions, changes in mandate, elevated conflict and a lot of uncertainty and fear of what is yet to come. Over the past ten years, I have crisscrossed the country many times to offer compassion fatigue training in nearly every province and territory. During my workshops, I get to meet with public sector employees, health care workers and other helping professionals as well as with management and human resources. Lately, I have been hearing the same words from nearly everyone I meet:  “change”,  “stress”, “conflict”, “uncertainty” and “overload”.

Is this true for you as well?

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What would you do for a mini-retreat?

Hi dear readers! I’ve been on summer hiatus for the past month. Every year, I take some time off after the annual conference. That means taking a break from writing and non-essential work in order to refuel and take stock. Don’t go imagining that this means that I am not working – far from it – there is always a lot to do, but I do deliberately shift gears from the Winter/Spring pace which can be frenetic at times, in spite of all of my best efforts. It’s a funny problem, really, to have a job I love! What I have also found is that busy times do not always allow for creative flow – when I am knee-deep in logistics, such as planning the annual conference, I don’t feel particularly filled with great new ideas, you know? But I have learned, now, because it’s the same every year, that if I give myself some time to slow down, by August, the writing muse comes galloping back.

A few “ungoals”

This year, I was a bit more deliberate in planning my writing break: I set some “ungoals” if you will, a few things that I wanted to integrate more regularly into my life, without being too dogmatic about them, and I also planned a retreat.  Here are some of the “ungoals” I set:

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The Undiet – Mini Book Review


This weekend, I am taking a little break from all conference-related matters. For someone who eloped 21 years ago to avoid all the hoopla, I sure seem to enjoy organising a 200 person event every year! Phew, it’s a lot of work, but it’s also very exciting. I can’t wait for June 4th.

Meanwhile, for a little R&R, I am indulging in my other passion: reading new cookbooks. I bought my very first one at age 13, I remember it perfectly – we were browsing in a bookstore somewhere on the Jersey shore during a family vacation, and I saw “Laurel’s Kitchen” a vegetarian bible for those in the know. I had already been pouring over my mom’s extensive collection for years (anyone remember the “Foods of the World” Time Life Series?). I would also read cookbooks during my babysitting gigs. I had two regular jobs: one with a yuppie foodie family who had great snacks and even better Read more ›

Mindfulness, Expressive Arts, Managing your Energy Capital

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Conference, June 4-5th, 2013.


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Organizational Change and Trauma Informed Care

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Conference June 4-5th, 2013.


happy team

Organizational Strategies – early intervention and risk assessment of secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout in the workplace

with Dr Leslie Anne Ross, Children’s Institute, Los Angeles.

This workshop will highlight lessons learned in Community Mental Health and Child Welfare on implementing training, policy, and workforce development strategies to address prevention and intervention of secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue and burnout. Results of a U.S. national survey conducted by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) on this issue will be discussed as well as highlights of a county wide initiative in Los Angeles, CA to create trauma-informed systems of care.  Click here for more information

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Mini Business Bootcamp & Soul Stations

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Conference June 4-5th. Today, we feature a “mini business bootcamp” and Soul Stations.

Running a Business from the Heart and the Hip: Balancing the joys and predicaments of being your own boss with Robin Cameron, M.Ed., CCC.

heart and brain Read more ›