Aging/Gerontology, End-of-Life, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Health Conditions/Diseases, Healthcare, Humanity, ICU, News, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

‘Journey’s End’ is Available!

Julie and I are very excited to announce that our book is available on the Xlibris website at:

Journey’s End: Death, Dying, and the End of Life; 2.5 years in the making is finally available. Thank you to all who contributed to our book. We never could have done it without you…

The book is also on,, Barnes & Noble.

Aging/Gerontology, News

A Company with a Focus on Canadians: Safe Tracks GPS Canada Inc.

Safe Tracks GPS Canada Inc.

The technology, the data, the services are all Canadian; almost unheard of today when much of production is typically shipped overseas. What began as a company of one with entrepreneur Vince Morelli, President with a business background expanded to Bob Aloisio, Vice President with a technology and particularly a GPS technology background for the past thirteen years, to six employees, and now has expanded from Western Canada to Eastern Canada and the Atlantic with partner, Erik Kikuchi.

Their diverse backgrounds provide a good foundation for technology and services whose mission is to provide Pro-Active electronic solutions to help improve the safety and security of our communities. 60% of their clientele is in Alberta with the other 40% spread across Canada. Their clientele ranges from government to the average Canadian citizen.

Safe Tracks GPS Canada Inc began in 2009 with a focus on increasing public security with GPS technology. SafeTracks initially focused on GPS-equipped ankle bracelets and other tracking devices worn by offenders under court order. About 3 1/2 years ago, it expanded into personal tracking, including devices to protect those in high-risk professions or situations.

More recently, the company expanded their market by creating technology that is geared at individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of Dementias, those with cognitive disorders, seniors, those who are vulnerable, those with intellectual challenges and benefits both the user and family and/or agency.

The GPS device locates someone who is lost, missing or needs help. Unlike typical monitoring devices which only work in the individual’s home or living quarters where the base is connected to a phone line, this technology goes with the individual wherever there is cell service.

Some are wearing a cell phone-like unit called a ST PRIME; others have a TRiLOC GPS Locator watch, and the rest have electronic GPS SmartSoles in their shoes. Their location can be tracked by smart phone or computer. If you as a family member or as a professional have ever had to go out and look for an individual with Dementia who has wandered off, you will certainly see the benefits to this technology. Something else that sets this company apart is the fact that the ST Prime and GPS SmartSoles are rechargeable by USB or inductive wireless chargers and do not require changing of traditional batteries.

If you would like to read more about Safe Tracks GPS Canada Inc. additional information can be found on their website: along with media coverage through CBC News Edmonton and CTV.

There are no contracts for personal devices and the cost for the items is affordable with manageable monthly fees. Each month SafeTracks offers online demonstrations on its GPS technology.
Register here:

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

End-of-Life, Healthcare, ICU

Dying with Dignity in the Intensive Care Unit

Hola a tod@s, my beloved rogues,

Published yesterday in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), I share this review article with the title, Dying with Dignity in the Intensive Care Unit signed by the doctors Deborah Cook and Graeme Rocker from Canada.

Traditional  goals of  Intensive Care are to reduce the mortality and morbidity associated with critical illness, maintain organ function, and restore health.  Despite technological advances, death in the ICU remains commonplace.

This review refers to the concept of dignity for patients who will die in the ICU: when the disease wins the battle, when the objectives cannot be achieved or the organic support means losing the human condition; the intensivists have to ensure that our patients die with dignity. 

The authors explain the ABCD management in accompaniment in death: attitude, behavior, compassion, and dialogue. And this also helps to avoid collateral damages and prevent and resolve conflicts with the families. Although, it may seem a paradox, critical care, and palliative care in ICU’s of the present must co-exist.

In the article there are comments about topics such as analysis of the needs of patients, communication, decision-making, providing prognostic information, making recommendations, providing holistic care, spiritual history, and the psychological and moral impact on professionals about living with death daily.

Impressive and required reading. 

By Gabi Heras, ICU Physician
*Re-posted with permission of: Gabi Heras, ICU Physician from:


Charter of Quebec Values: Part 2

The saga continues, but I can say as one trained as a social worker, I am happy to come across media that negates what the PQ Minority government is trying to do.

I opened my local Suburban today, dated September 25, 2013 and read many Letters to the Editor that basically say, “Shame on you, PQ.” I smiled when I came across one written by a francophone who admits he voted for Pauline Marois and now wish he had not.

He states, “Shame on you. As a proud francophone living in Montreal, you’ve managed in your short stint as Premier to roll back Quebec and Montreal to the days dating back to pre-1900’s. Even then I do not think it was this bad…….you’ve managed to divide the people of a province, as well as a city. You have managed to ignore what is really important to Quebecers…education and health….”

Another writes, “Only one person could put an end to this dangerous talk of ‘pure lain values’ and she, like far too many politicians lack the backbone, the morals and ethical conviction and the humility to stand up and say, ‘I have made a mistake.’ But they never do that. They never apologize. They never admit to mistakes. The poor, the hungry, the elderly in our society are ignored, the roads crumble, the bridges fall down…..”

Another individual titles his letter, ‘The Charter of Shame.” That just about sums up the Charter of Quebec Values.

These individuals have conviction, morals and integrity to speak their minds and good for them! More need to do this, especially Francophones as the Charter of Quebec Values, targets and isolates immigrants, minorities, those who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and of other cultural and religious backgrounds-anyone non-Christian.

As Mayor William Steinberg of Hampstead wrote in his letter to the editor, “I am a member of three minorities, I am English, I am handicapped (hearing) and I am a Jew.”

Montreal is a beautiful city with culture, great food, wonderful activities and is a blend of individuals from all over the world. Quebec, whether it likes it or not, is part of Canada which is a great country that prides itself on its blend of people which includes different cultures, religions, ethnicities…..Canada is a western country with democracy and I, along with others, are wondering if Premier Pauline Marois realizes this as she is coming across as a politician who does not care and does not listen to her residents.

By Victoria Brewster, MSW

Healthcare, News

National Forum on Patient Experience Conference-Day 2

The conference opened with Dr. Vaughan Glover, CEO, CAPCH with opening remarks.

The opening address was by Mary Ferguson-Paré, Fmr. Vice President, Professional Affairs & Chief Nurse Executive, Recipient, Order of Canada, University Health Network on the topic of: The Moral Imperative for Patient-Centered Care: Transformational Values: Build a Responsive and Ethics Driven Culture to Advance Patient-Centered Care. A wonderful speaker who came across as caring and warm, and the type of individual that you would want as your director supervisor, mentor and advocate.

After this was a nursing panel moderated by: Petrina McGrath, Vice President, Quality and Interprofessional Practice, Saskatoon Health Region with Patti Cochrane, Vice President, Patient Care Services, Trillium Health Partners, Dr. Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD, LLD (hon), O. ONT, Chief Executive Officer, The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), and Barbara Fitzgerald, Director of Nursing, Princess Margaret Hospital on the topic of: Nursing Perspective: Managing the Obstacles and Exploring Opportunities Toward a Better Patient Experience.

As a professional who is educated as a social worker, I very easily related to the examples and issues presented on this nursing panel. The patient/client is first and foremost and healthcare is all about the patient. It was wonderful to hear of former frontline workers who were passionate about change, energetic and grabbed the audience’s attention. In particular, I was inspired by Dr. Doris Grinspun who spoke with …..the correct terminology escapes me, but I really listened to what she had to say, as I found her comments and statements aligned with my views of what society should look like; fair, just and free of obstacles when it comes to culture and socioeconomic status. My own educational background in sociology and social work have provided me with a good foundation and my views of what healthcare, community care, Patient-Centered or Person-Centered-Care should be about, were what this conference was all about. I even made a point at the lunch break to walk over and let her know I enjoyed her presentation and found her inspiring!

Next was a presentation by Northumberland Community Partners Advancing Transitions in Healthcare on the topic of: Build the Future of Healthcare Delivery Using Experience Based Co-Design with Helen Brenner, Interim President and CEO, Northumberland Hills Hospital, Wendy Kolodziejczak, PATH Project Manager, Northumberland Hills Hospital and Patient Advocate, Gayle Einarsson, Fmr. Patient & Caregiver, RISE Team Leader, Northumberland Hills Hospital.

Another inspiring panel which showcased the model they use, its effectiveness and again engaged the attendees.

The morning ended with a Case Study by Cancer Care Ontario on the topic of: Drive System-Level Transformation through a Patient and Family Advisory Council with Laura Macdougall, Director, Clinical Programs & Patient Experience, Cancer Care Ontario and Patient Advocate, Joanne MacPhail, Fmr. Patient, Co-Chair Patient and Family Advisory Council and Patient Advisor Cancer Care Ontario.

Again, another inspiring presentation and a personal one. I related and understood much of what Joanne MacPhail shared with all of us who attended, as she is a survivor of cancer and her path had many similarities to my mother-in-laws path with cancer. The one difference is Joanne is alive to talk about her treatment and she has chosen to become an advocate, a speaker and a mentor to others. She brought tears to many with her speech, but she is a positive role model and an inspiration.

The afternoon session of the second day was divided into two Break-Out sessions, one a panel discussion with a Closing Address by Women’s College Hospital, Collaborative Care: Restructure Clinical Teams and Operations around the Patient with Christine Gordon, Director, Patient Access and Clinical Operations Women’s College Hospital. This was followed by a Case Study: Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre, Develop an Integrated, Transitional Care Strategy that Provides a Continuity of Experience with Caroline Brereton, CEO, Mississauga Halton Community Centre.

After a short break the topic was Shared Decision Making: Engaging Patients in Shared Decision Making to Improve Clinical and Experiential Outcomes with Dawn Stacey, University Research Chair in Knowledge Translation to Patients; Associate Professor, Director, Patient Decision Aids Research Group, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. The afternoon ended with a Peer-to Peer Exchange on Designing and Delivering on Your Patient Experience Vision Now and In the Future.

The other Break-Out session was a presentation titled: Patient Experience Design Workshop with Ted Ball, Transformation Coach, Quantum Transformation Technologies and Art Frohwerk, Master Facilitator, Quantum/Clearpath. I attended this one and was inspired once again and what a wonderful way to end the afternoon!

I definitely walked away with a lot of knowledge and information, met some great professionals who truly care and fit the image of a ‘helping professional’ and am inspired to collaborate with others and implement change with and for clients.

Once again, a special thank you to Paul Gallant of Gallant Healthworks & Associates who was one of the partners for this conference. In addition, he is the group owner of the LinkedIn group, Canada Health and Healthcare Consultants where I am one of the two moderators. It is because of Paul that I was able to attend this conference.

I stand by my tagline on this blog of: “As helping professionals; we should be present, be aware, be respectful, be responsive, be compassionate, be empathic and be mentors to others.”

By Victoria Brewster, MSW

Humanity, News

Charter of Quebec Values for Who?

The more I read on the issue of the Charter of Quebec Values, I wonder whose values are these? Not mine. I agree with separation of ‘church and state,’ but this is so much more than that. ‘It was originally billed as a “Charter of Secularism,” but the government changed the label. In its revised form, the PQ said the charter will focus on Quebec values such as equality of men and women before the law regardless origin, religion, or mother tongue.’  Even further, the PQ government, the province, wants to protect state secularism by prohibiting public-sector workers from wearing religious symbols in workplaces such as schools, hospitals and daycares.

How can an individual wearing a cross or star of david around their neck be seen as a threat to the Quebec public? How does a teacher wearing a kippah, turban or scarf detract the students from learning? Why is it seen by the minority Quebec government in power, the PQ, that in order for its provincial residents to be a part of Quebec society, we must all be the same and not show outward signs of religion or culture?

I’ve written before on issues regarding the PQ’s suggested legislation, Bill 14 which is a whole separate topic, but the Charter of Quebec Values goes against the very purpose of a free, just, equal, and fair society.

The recent ban on turbans on the soccer pitch — which was lifted by the Quebec Soccer Federation after external pressure — offers a glimpse.’ The ban triggered a political uproar and made headlines around the world as it should have. How does a turban interfere with the game of soccer? ‘Premier Pauline Marois defended the soccer federation and fired back at its detractors whom she accused of Quebec-bashing.’  Really? Does she want to be known for positive improvements or only negative legislation?

The Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has led the opposition among federal parties up to this point, going as far as raising an analogy to segregation in the United States in the 1960s. Mr. Trudeau attacked those who ‘believe that we have to choose between our religion and our Quebec identity, stating the charter would force some people to make irresponsible and inconceivable choices.’  Think back in history for similar discriminatory practices like, slavery, lack of Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, Women’s Lib, where has this led our society? Think of all the wars, pogroms and genocides that have occurred in the worlds history and then see that they all came from a place of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the different. Different is not a bad thing; different is what makes us unique and appreciate the other.

The PQ has defended its plan in the face of an outcry in English Canada, where some analysts and columnists have raised fears of racism, xenophobia and even fascism. The PQ has also used Mr. Trudeau’s attacks against the charter to bolster its case in Quebec, saying it will be up to Quebeckers to choose between two different visions of society.

Last I knew, Quebec was part of Canada. A free, just and open country which values fairness, justice, acceptance re: different religions and cultures. Has something changed that I have not read or heard about? Quebec seems to struggle with being part of an amazing country which offers so much to its citizens. The country itself is bilingual and yet this is something else that Quebec wants to change forcing its residents  to learn, speak and interact on a daily basis in the French language. Personally, I think the more languages one knows the better, but force is not the way to do it. Choice, options, and suggestions tend to work better.

People are speaking up, groups are speaking up and this is one of the great things about social media-is it is right out there for all to see. I hope more Quebec residents speak up and share their thoughts whether positive or negative on this subject-dialogue is certainly needed along with education of the positives and negatives of such legislation, along with perhaps a trip down memory lane where rules and regulations similar to this have been enforced before.

An organization of Quebec teachers is calling the Parti Quebecois’ so-called “Quebec Values” charter extremist, warning it could hinder some teachers’ right to work if they aren’t permitted to wear such religious garb as hijabs, kippas, turbans or crosses.

Regroupement provincial des comités des usagers (RPCU), has a number of concerns about the Charter of Quebec Values proposed by the government of Quebec. The RPCU feels that the secular nature of the State should be evident through the neutrality of its actions, not through a prohibition on the wearing of religious symbols either by the individuals who provide services or by those who receive them. Does the wearing of religious symbols by government employees really prevent the neutrality of the State?

The RPCU is also concerned that religious practices will be banned from residential and long-term care centres (CHSLD). A majority of the elderly in-patients are practicing Catholics, and Sunday mass is anxiously awaited. The same is true for in-patients of other faiths, Jews or Muslims, for example.

What right do I have to bring up these issues? I live in Quebec and I am part of the minority as an Anglophone (English speaking). I do not believe force and discriminatory legislation is needed or in the best interest of the residents of Quebec. Acceptance, compassion, empathy and building bridges seems to me a better direction to go.

By Victoria Brewster, MSW

*First posted at:


The Benefit of Nurse Practitioners

I came across this post in The Guardian that discusses the benefits of nurse practitioners to fill the void of not enough family physicians. Where have all the GP’s gone and why are so many in the medical field specializing? Perhaps the provinces and medical schools should create incentives for medical students to go into family medicine.

If this is working in PEI, why not elsewhere in Canada? No matter what province, there are not enough family physicians and often individuals end up at a walk-in clinic or the ER and wait hours to be seen/treated and these visits create a burden on the already overtaxed healthcare system and created a backlog. The ER is for true emergencies.

According to the Canadian Nurses Association, more than four million Canadians are without access to a primary health-care provider, while those that have one often have difficulty accessing care, notes the CNA. The result is an unsustainable, heavily burdened and an overcrowded health-care system. Change is needed and NPs could be a good solution.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with additional education, advanced knowledge and nursing experience, who work collaboratively with other nursing colleagues and health-care providers. They deliver and coordinate high-quality care, order tests, prescribe medications, and diagnose and manage chronic illnesses. NPs are part of health-care teams in a variety of settings, including community clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes and hospitals.

I hope to see other provinces go in the direction PEI has and hire NPs to fill a void in the current healthcare system while at the same time providing and improving access to care.