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Patience: Empowering or Not?

Sasha Kondrashov and Ani Dingamtar

Wikipedia defines patience as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. After reading such a definition, ask yourself a question, is it empowering? Internet is full of advice on how to be patient: “The Skill of Patience“, “The Quality of Patience“, “Compassionate Patience“, “5 Tips for Teaching Patience“, “The Importance of Patience in Every Area of Life“, “How To Master Patience – 20 Powerful Tips“, “The Three P’s to Success: Patience, Persistence and Positivity“, “Becoming a more patience leader“, “15 Tips for Becoming as Patient as Job“, “35 Inspirational Quotes On Patience” and even more quotes about patience.

One can also listen to the “Patience” song by American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, which appears on the album G N’ R Lies and is released as a single in 1989 and then Chris Cornell’s tribute to Guns N’ Roses classic song “Patience“. When one study psychology, patience is seen as a decision-making problem involving either a small reward in the short-term versus a more valuable reward in the long-term. Religions all over the world will have some reminders on why patience is essential in life. Sandilya Upanishad of Hinduism identifies ten sources of patience and forbearances: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Daya, Arjava, Kshama, Dhriti, Mitahara and Saucha. In each of these ten forbearances, the virtuous implicit belief is that our current spirit and the future for everyone, including oneself, will be stronger if these forbearances are one’s guide.

Motivational videos, speeches, TED talks remind us of the importance of being patient. However, is it such a fantastic skill, virtue, ability and capacity that we always need to practice? Let’s go back to patience’s original definition as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Now let’s stop for a minute and think about bullying, harassment, violence, abuse, neglect, genocide, and many other suffering processes. Are we saying to the victim, please be patient and practice tolerance> It can be extremely disempowering.

Social workers need to be critical of using concept patience when working with their clients. We need to know what patience means to the person. Social workers do not offer advice, so saying please be patient to the victim of violence without explaining what we mean by patience can be perceived as keeping experience violence.

Patience has multiple meanings, and depending on someone’s experiences with patience, the use of the concept in social work practice needs to be adequately assessed. Saying be patient without discussing what it means to be patient and not learning about experiences people had with practicing patience can be damaging. Victims of violence can stay in violent relationships when they are reminded to be patient. Abuse and neglect will continue as a person is reminded that patience is a virtue and suffering needs to be tolerated.

Patience also can be seen as a way to move in a direction that can be positive as the change process can be slow with many ups and downs, setbacks and slow step by step progressions. In such a way, patience becomes the ability to assiduously wait out the change process, allowing time to bring the needed changes.

The process of practicing patience needs to come from within the person. Each person have their plan to navigate challenges. Saying to someone to be patient is not a solution. Asking someone to find ways to alleviate suffering can be an opportunity to discuss patience from inner-self. When people describe what they do to stop abuse, it allows them to uncover humility, strength, capacity and define patience. In such a way, patience can be empowering. If the social worker uses it without a proper assessment of the situation, patience can be very disempowering.

Patience is the ability to find a balance that only can be seen from the inner self. Social workers can explore the balance on individual, cultural and structural levels and ask clients about their capacity on each level. Patience is experienced very differently by many people. One learning journey about being patient is very different too. Many people learn about patience associated with childhood experiences. For some people, positive change can happen when they practice patience, while others are kept waiting for any positive changes to come.

The discussion on privilege and oppression is essential when the concept of patience is explored as a person might have a lot of individual capacity, but culturally and structurally, being patient is challenging. For example, a person who is unemployed, living in an abusive relationship might have more challenges in leaving the relationship than one who has stable employment and has the more structural and cultural capacity to stop tolerating abuse.

To practice patience, some people need to demonstrate impatience. It is more evident on structural and cultural levels. Protests are examples of when patience is not enough and impatience is critical to make positive changes. If they kept patiently waiting for including vacation benefits in their employment contract, workers might never get them from the employer. People who experience violence in abusive relationships might never be able to receive adequate services if the funding was not allocated to create such services.  Impatience is a much more critical concept for social workers to discuss with clients than being patient. Many abusers and those who want to maintain the status quo will use the phrase; please be patient to keep oppression going. Such ways of seeing patience should not be tolerated, and social workers need to question why patience is used to silence victims of abuse. Patiently experiencing harassment is not okay. Patiently being bullied, neglected should never be accepted.

Social workers need to promote critical patience when change is explained, and people are not forever waiting and tolerating their suffering. Patience needs to be appropriately taught when it is okay to tolerate suffering and how to do it. When suffering destroys your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health it is not okay to be reminded to stay patient. Patience needs to be seen on different levels: individual, cultural and structural, and lenses of privilege and oppression need to be applied in practicing patience. Each person has a unique experience with patience on each level, and it needs to be explored, and proper actions are taken to be patient and achieve the change that is consistent with social work values.

Practice patience critically and explore when patience can be empowering and promote it. When patience is disempowering, practicing impatience is a better course of action.

Please Vote

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

BC has an election this Saturday. It is a snap provincial election, and many newcomers to Kamloops might not know how to vote as it will be their first elections. This post can help newcomers to exercise the highest privilege Canadian citizen has, the right to vote. First, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older when they register to vote, or 18 years or older on general voting day
  • Be a Canadian citizen
  • Have been a resident of B. C. for at least six months before they register to vote
  • Have either lived or owned property in the jurisdiction in which they intend to vote for at least 30 days before they register to vote
  • Not be disqualified under the Local Government Act, or any other enactment, or by law from voting in a local election

Next, make sure on October 24th you will vote in one of the locations around you. Find the location here: https://wheretovote.elections.bc.ca/

To register on voting day, eligible resident electors are required to show two pieces of identification, the identification must prove who they are and where they live — including the person’s name and residential address. If neither piece of identification shows the elector’s residential address, they may make a solemn declaration as to their place of residence.

Kamloops has two electoral districts (North and South). I have contacted all candidates from two districts (8) and asked them the same three questions.

I started all my messages the same:

“Thank you for being part of the BC elections. My name is Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov, and I have recently moved to Kamloops and looking forward to my first voting experience in BC. I recently attended the social debate organized by TRU social work and human service students and was encouraged to contact you via social media. I hope to write a short article and to share with newcomers to Kamloops and my Facebook and wider social media community on Friday about Kamloops candidates and their responses to three questions”

Only one candidate responded to the Facebook message, and I have included Thomas’s answers at the bottom of this post. I want to say thank you to Thomas for taking the time and answering the questions as it helped me to make a personal connection with one of the candidates that I value a lot as I want all candidates to be responsive and represent all the constituents. I also translated Thomas’s answers into Ukrainian so Mama can also make an informed decision.

If you do not know yet whom you will vote for, take your time and research each candidate’s Facebook profile, read Thomas’s response to questions I asked all candidates and vote. Each vote counts!

Some Additional Helpful Links:

Social Issues Debate from Kamloops This Week.

CFJC’s Election 2020 Kamloops-North Thompson Candidates Debate (video link)

CFJC’s Election 2020 Kamloops-South Thompson Candidates Debate (video link)

Thomas’s responses to my questions:

What is your (your party) position on providing adequate supports to long-term care residents? What do you plan to implement during the next four years?  Will you support legislation changes to ensure that there will be a dedicated social worker position in every long term care in BC to advocate for every long-term care resident. More information on the critical role social workers play in long term care in Ontario can be found here: https://krasun.ca/2020/10/06/in-the-eye-of-the-storm-pandemic-social-work-during-covid-19-in-long-term-care-ontario/

The BC Green Party’s position is that seniors are not a commodity that should be earning some investor a profit—they are our parents, our grandparents. It’s time we shifted our tax dollars away from for-profit long-term care in BC, and instead build a high quality and accessible system of senior’s care in this province.

Over the next four years we want to:

·       Shift away from a for-profit model to a mix of public, non-profit, and community-based care

·       Ensure that caregivers are a recognised profession with the salary they deserve

·       Ensure that public funding is only being used to support direct care they deserve

I would support any legislation that supports health and care outcomes for seniors.

What is your (your party) position on creating adequate programming to integrate newcomers to Kamloops (any city in BC) and adapt successfully in their new communities? What steps do you plan to take to ensure newcomers’ needs are met? How will you share the critical information to newcomers about access to the services? In Kamloops, there is a guide to newcomers (https://krasun.ca/2020/07/04/welcome-to-kamloops-e-book/ ) that will be updated annually. How will you ensure that similar resources are available in other cities in BC?

I found moving to a new town within BC incredibly difficult – I can’t fathom how difficult it is to move to a new country.

One thing is found incredibly useful is living in a vibrant neighbourhood including walkable communities, adequate amenities including community centres and park, and flourishing small businesses. Of course, this is a long-term goal of the BC Greens that will take more than four years to achieve.

I believe the official forecast for Kamloops is another 30,000 residents by 2039 – so if we want our community to thrive we have to start seriously thinking about making these newcomers welcome in our town.

This could be viewed as a municipal responsibility and there is a long history in BC of the province downloading costs and responsibilities onto municipalities. I want to reverse that trend. Our platform calls for rethinking municipal finances, reforming property taxes, increasing funding for community health centres, increasing funding for basic municipal infrastructure, and increasing funding for walking and biking infrastructure. These sounds like boring administrative policies (they’re not boring to me!), but it would really help towns and cities to focus on becoming the place they want to be rather than struggling to pay for basic services.

One thing that was brought to my attention this campaign was a proposal championed by the North Shore Business Improvement Association. The content was strong, but what really struck me was a local group saw an issue in their community and developed a plan to address it. I think that’s where the role of local MLA’s come in; to be the champion of this local ideas and fight for their implementation at the provincial level.

Social workers are essential service providers to support the needs of vulnerable populations. How you (your party) plan to support the promotion of the social work profession in BC? Are you planning to support legislative changes to ensure that the professional social workers serve vulnerable groups in MCFD, and children and families receive adequate services from professionally educated social workers? More information about the necessary change in the legislation can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/bc-ministry-of-children-family-development-strengthen-professional-social-work-in-british-columbia

              Probably the best way to describe our support for social work as a profession is to describe our view of social services in BC. To quote directly from our platform:

              “We entrench people in poverty with programs we have right now, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The purpose of our social safety net should be to help people get out of poverty”

              For example, there was a question about the CAR 40 in the recent forum put on by TRU’s social work faculty. Yes, the CAR 40 program is good. Yes, expanding it would help. However, we need to go much, much further.

              I don’t think I have the time or the expertise to answer in detail all the changes that are required to our current system. I would encourage you to read our platform in full and especially the sections “Income Security”, “Public Education”, “Housing Affordability”, “Equity and Inclusion”, and “Indigenous Reconciliation”. 

Thomas Martin (he/him)
BC Greens’ Candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson
BC Greens. Sign up to learn more
Ph 250 319 5996

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The main office of the BC Green Party is located on the territory of the Lekwungen-speaking people. I work on the territory of the Secwepemc

In the eye of the storm: Pandemic social work during COVID-19 in long-term care Ontario.

In the eye of the storm: Pandemic social work during COVID-19 in long-term care Ontario.

Pandemic affected all social work practice areas and allowed us to uncover multiple extreme inequities in service delivery for vulnerable populations. In summer 2020, during the first global offering of the pandemic social work course at Thompson Rivers University, a practicing social worker from one of Ontario’s Long Term Care Home, Candace Hind, visited our class. What was initially scheduled to be a short overview of social work practice in long term care during pandemic became a four-hour presentation on the challenges long term care social workers face on multiple levels of practice. There is a shortage of social workers in long-term care. Not enough PPE, inadequate response from the Government of Ontario, “military savour operation” instead of having adequately trained professionals with adequate resources providing critical services to Canadian seniors. We listened to stories of resilience, teachings 100 years old Canadians shared with us through Candace quotes. It was always powerful, sometimes it was frightening, but we needed to hear social work perspective to think about future actions. Candace shared with us a new assessment tool developed to identify residents’ needs in pandemic and changes in how we practice in times of physical distancing. The need to reform current long-term care in Canada is critical to allow residents to live life with dignity before, during and after the pandemic. We learn that social workers went from being considered non-essential to essential workers of long term care. We had an active discussion throughout the lecture. It was a unique opportunity to connect literature to everyday practice.

In October 2020 we decided to record the presentation as part of the Voices Social Work (VSW) project. Those “AHA” moments pandemic social work students experience in June now can be shared with the broader community and bring necessary changes to long term service provision in Canada and globally. I will keep adding more Youtube links to this post so everyone who reads it can learn about ageing as a continuum of care and how “silence” was an initial response when the pandemic was announced on what happened next. The chronology of changes and policy responses. The first positive COVID experience. The stigma frontline workers face in providing care on who will be considered essential and who is not. The recordings are influential. I am incredibly grateful for Candace to share the time, so we will remember what it means to provide services during a pandemic and the critical role social workers play in the global public health emergency.

Part 1 of the lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCbBCcDYY-U covers a period from March 11, 2020 when WHO declared global pandemic to April 9 when the first COVID-19 positive case was recorded in the long term care where Candace was working, and social worker role was moved from being essential to being a critical service provider. Please feel free to share the recording with social work students, practitioners and everyone who want to promote necessary changes to ensure that every Canadian in long-term care is supported by a social worker to receive the best possible service in pandemic and beyond.

Part 2 of the lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIUJwqgQYMg focus on how social work role was changed from essential to critical. Candace Hind will share the change happened on April 9, 2020 when the first positive case was recorded in the long term care. Candace shared how safety plans were developed and what worked and what did not work and the critical role of the social worker during lockdown. Very passionate part of the lecture and lots of learning point on why social workers are required to be present in every long term care.

Part 3 of the lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xot8OOt7vA8 summarizes key learning points and provide an overview on what happened in one of the Ontario’s long term care facility after first outbreak and how social worker role was changing to respond to the needs of the residents. Candace offered three key lessons every student who plan to work in long term care need to learn. A great way to summarize the lecture and highlight the social worker role in long term care during pandemic March-June 2020.