Monday, October 7, 2019

More than just a dislocated knee:
McGill’s Congress on ‘Whole Person Care

By Randy Pinsky 

Busy hospital rooms, rushing medical staff...who has the time to consider patients as people? Is it not simply more efficient to approach cases as ‘the dislocated knee in room 4B’?

While a common reality, this does not necessarily need to be the case, argue the coordinators of McGill University’s Third International Congress on Whole Person Care. Guest speakers and participants from more than 12 countries will focus on the theme of “Exploring Compassion, Addiction, and Culture Change” at the McGill New Residence Hall, 3625 Avenue du Parc from October 17 to 20. While organized by the Faculty of Medicine, the team reinforces that the messages conveyed are relevant for all. 

“Medicine has become so technical, so complex, that we sometimes forget that there is a whole person there,'' shared Dr. Tom Hutchinson, congress director and head of the Programs in Whole Person Care at McGill University. In striving for efficiency, the patient as an entity has faded from view. As a result, they are routinely identified as pathologies and conditions to be fixed, rather than humans with ailments.

A lack of resources combined with managerial struggles can understandably lead to harried workplaces where patient input is under-sought. But in being considered as a passive recipient of care as opposed to an active partner in the process, recovery can be compromised.

“The energy for healing comes from the patient. They need to feel validated - as a person - to get better,” reinforced Hutchinson. So it is back towards this relationship and way of thinking the congress is striving for; one “medicine can either get in the way of...or else contribute to.” 

The concept of whole person care was popularized (though not coined) by Dr. Patch Adams, proponent of using humour in medicine, and focus of the film by the same name, powerfully portrayed by the legendary Robin Williams. When confronted about his unconventional approach to treating patients, Adams responded, “Is not a doctor just someone who helps someone else?” 

This simple yet profound truth cuts through the efficiency and alludes to the frequently forgotten essence of medicine. The emphasis on helping and healing over curing and solving is among the take-away messages for the participants (be they fresh out of med school or with decades of experience), to return home, renewed and recommitted. 

The message of viewing the patient as a whole was also evocatively expressed in the film when a woman suffering from diabetic complications was being examined by a buzz of med students. While discussing her condition as one would a chunk of marble, Adams quietly inquired from the back: “What’s her name?,” hinting at what medicine had become.

The Whole Person Care Congress seeks to directly address these issues, starting with a book launch on MD Aware: A Mindful Medical Practice Course Guide,discussing the need for humanism, self-care and compassion in medical education. This will be followed by a presentation by Dr. Gabor Maté. 

McGill is already ahead of other medical schools with its compulsory Programs in Whole Person Care integrated in its curriculum. To have both such a program as well as host this conference, adds further legitimacy to the concept. 

In reflecting on the motivation for coordinating congresses such as these, Hutchinson shared: “It is to remind practitioners - both new and old - that we are dealing with people, and they are who give what we do, life.” 

For information or to register, visit

Monday, September 16, 2019

#1000joursAH social movement to 
map accessibility,
200 volunteers needed!

This is an important initiative launched by that we want to share with you!

The #1000joursAH social movement aims to map all public locations before 2022.

On September 24, 25 and 26, will hold a 400-location mapping event in downtown Montreal. The first event of the #1000joursAH movement, it aims to map the actual accessibility of downtown Montreal's public locations. They will then share the information with the public, allowing them to discover a whole new world of accessible locations that may fit their needs. 

Downtown Montreal, with its 5,000 stores and businesses, is vital for greater Montreal’s economy and social life. That is why it was deemed the best place to officially start #1000joursAH movement.

200 volunteers needed!
In order to make this event a success, OnRoule is looking for 200 volunteers. Come for just the morning, afternoon or full day. A lunch will be offered, and you will receive you own brand new, humorous OnRoule T-shirts :)

Register here

See the full schedule below.

Cartographier 400 commerces en 3 jours : 
200 bénévoles recherchés!

Le mouvement #1000joursAH, vous connaissez? Lancé par, il vise à cartographier la totalité des lieux publics d’ici 2022.

Les 24-25-26 septembre prochain, organise 3 jours de cartographie de l’accessibilité de 400 commerces du centre-ville de Montréal, dans le cadre du mouvement #1000joursAH. Le but est de faire un état des lieux de l’accessibilité actuelle des lieux publics et de rendre l’information disponible aux citoyens afin que ceux-ci puissent découvrir une multitude de nouveaux lieux dont l’accessibilité (souvent partielle) conviendra à leurs besoins, même si celle-ci ne peut convenir à tous (concept d’accessibilité humaine - AH). Une cartographie simple et rapide à mettre en place, offrant une solution complémentaire aux efforts de l’accessibilité universelle. 

Fort de près de 5 000 commerces en tous genres, le centre-ville est un incontournable de la vie économique et sociale du grand Montréal Métropolitain. C’est donc l’endroit idéal où réaliser le premier événement du mouvement #1000joursAH.

200 bénévoles recherchés!
Pour y arriver, OnRoule recherche près de 200 bénévoles. Vous pouvez vous impliquer le temps d’un avant-midi, d’un après-midi, ou encore toute la journée, selon vos disponibilités. Un lunch vous sera offert, et vous recevrez l’un des T-shirts humoristiques OnRoule.

Inscrivez-vous ici :

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Rick Lavoie teaches parents, educators 
to give positive messages, build on strengths 

By Cindy Davis and Wendy Singer

Christopher Simeone, Rick Lavoie, Linda Aber and
Pam Wener at Ruby Foo's Hotel in Montreal on June 1.
(Photos, Sana Nakleh)
The Montreal Centre for Learning Disabilities brought world-renowned special educator Rick Lavoie to town June 1 to share his teachings in a daylong seminar with nearly 200 teachers, special educators, professionals and parents. Author Lavoie is known for his popular video How Difficult Can This Be: The F.A.T. City Workshop, which allows viewers to experience the frustration, anxiety and tension that children with learning disabilities face in their daily lives.

With his warm sense of humour and gift for story-telling, Lavoie had the audience captivated right from the beginning. He recounted how he was punished often as a child due to his “tremendous” ADHD. The principal and I shared an office!” His experience, and that of a family member who struggled with learning difficulties, provided him first-hand insight into the challenges that children with learning disabilities face on a daily basis, both at home and at school.

Lavoie’s morning session focused on strategies to help improve the behaviour of children, sharing powerful messages that encouraged participants to look at discipline and reactions to behaviour in a different light. He used the example of the “attention seeker,” who may be relentless and is therefore viewed as annoying and ripe for punishment. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease because the squeaky wheel needs the grease,” he said. “We can ignore the behaviour, but not the need.”

                                      Lavoie describes three axioms of the child with learning disabilities:
Rick Lavoie
   1. They don’t want your power; they want some of their own  power.
   2.  If you wouldn’t do it to an adult, don’t do it to a kid.
   3. The pain that a troubled child causes is never greater than the pain that he feels.

According to Lavoie, a child’s identity is completely wrapped up in school, and if he is not succeeding at school, then his impression is that he is failing every day. And, he is probably being punished for his school results and behaviour. Lavoie explains that direction should always be positive. “This hurt runs deep .Negative feedback stops the behaviour, but only in that iteration. Plus, the message gets lost in the fear and anxiety surrounding the punishment. Positive feedback changes behaviour. Changes are gradual but the stress of failure is eliminated."

In the afternoon session, Lavoie focused his conversation on strategies for educators working with parents of children with learning disabilities. He compared the struggle that some parents have with their children’s social issues with that of professionals with patients in crisis mode: their concerns must be taken very seriously, but the child or patient’s actions must not be taken personally. Lavoie said that learning disabilities are often characterized as being classroom problems, but they in fact have an impact on every moment in a child’s day, including sleep. He spoke of some of the 15 areas he identifies in his book It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend in which children with learning disabilities may struggle, and that by lacking in some of these areas, children sometimes break what he calls “social contracts.” He then detailed a process he developed called a “social skills autopsy,” which  is a process used to analyze and correct a break in the social contract.  With the child, he determines the cause of the break, evaluates the extent of the damage, and then gains knowledge which will prevent recurrence.

Lavoie was engaging and relatable, and used personal stories, as well as stories from his practice and career, to solidify his points. One of his most effective analogies was the family of five sleeping on a waterbed. “They are all feeling the waves created by the movement of each member,” he explained. 

The Montreal Centre for Learning Disabilities team. 
Lavoie’s teachings provide deep insight and direction on how to better the lives of children with learning disabilities and the overall health of the family. Stay positive, build on strengths, use “could” instead of “should,” and avoid expressing disappointment, because, he said, your child is probably already overly disappointed in himself.

Lavoie is also the author of  Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Successand The Motivation Breakthrough.

Thanks to the MCLD for an enlightening day!

Listen to our Inspirations podcast 
with host Mark Bergman and Rick Lavoie
 right here!