October 2020 Newsletter
From our Executive Director, Maria Hudspith
Earlier this year, I wrote to you about the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening another public health emergency – the overdose crisis – which has taken the lives of thousands of British Columbians since 2016. This crisis is particularly relevant to our community because of the strong link between unmanaged pain and overdose death: Nearly half of those who have died in this crisis had recently sought help to manage pain. While overdose deaths have decreased somewhat since they peaked in June of this year, the number of overdose deaths in August was still 71% higher than the year prior.

To help curb this heartbreaking rise in overdose deaths, BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued a new public health order last month; this order enables registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe safer pharmaceutical alternatives to people at risk of overdose from the toxic street drug supply. This public health order will empower nurses who work in community outreach teams and those providing psychiatric care in hospital settings with more tools to prevent overdose deaths.

Pain BC fully supports the growing number of initiatives and policy changes aimed at providing people who use drugs with prescribed alternatives to the toxic street drug supply. At the same time, we must recognize the unintended consequences of de-prescribing prescription opioids for people who rely on them for pain management. Data show that overdose deaths from prescribed opioids have been stable in BC since 2009, representing less than 3% of overdose deaths. The harms of these medications must be balanced with the risk of untreated pain driving people to the toxic and deadly street supply. 

Similarly, all people who live with pain – including those who use drugs need access to multi-modal pain care and services beyond prescribed opioids. One way we’re working to address this issue is by integrating our Making Sense of Pain program into Vancouver Coastal Health’s Downtown Eastside Chronic Pain Service, which offers free, low-barrier, non-pharmacological support for people living with pain, poverty and often substance use. 

In order to address these dual challenges, we need thoughtfully aligned public health policies for managing chronic pain and substance use policies that recognize pain management as an important component of overdose prevention.

If you live with pain and have been impacted by the overdose crisis, we welcome the opportunity to learn more about your experience. Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Pain BC programs, resources and updates
The following programs and initiatives are funded, in whole or in part, by the Province of British Columbia: Coaching for Health, chronic pain management workshops for health care providers, Gentle Movement and Relaxation course, Live Plan Be, Making Sense of Pain, Pain BC's monthly webinars for health care providers, Pain Foundations, Pain Support and Wellness Groups, Pain Support Line and the Pain Waves podcast.
National Pain Awareness Week: November 1-7, 2020

Pain BC and Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP) invite you to join us this National Pain Awareness Week (NPAW) to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and spark action to address chronic pain. From November 1-7, 2020, we’re asking like-minded people and organizations to join us in participating in this social media campaign. We hope you’ll join us in our efforts to create dialogue and draw attention to chronic pain, which affects more than seven million Canadians.

We’ve created a social media toolkit to help you join the conversation. It includes suggested social media posts on a wide range of topics related to chronic pain, as well as supporting graphics that you can share. Please be sure to use the campaign hashtags, #NPAW2020 and #LivingWithPain, in your posts to build momentum and help others follow along.

We look forward to seeing you join the conversation next week!
New episode of our Pain Waves podcast
Pain Support and Wellness Groups: A free online community of support for people with pain

Many people living with pain find peer support programs help them to feel heard and understood, and reduce their feelings of isolation and helplessness that often accompany pain.

In this month's episode of the Pain Waves podcast, we discuss how our free Pain Support and Wellness Groups are providing people in pain with opportunities to meet regularly online and build a community of support while learning about pain management and sharing coping strategies. We're joined by a number of guests Dorota Hedzelek, Pain BC's Director of Support Services, as well as two volunteer group facilitators, Dwayne and Juhree, and two group participants, Jenny and Mike who offer their unique perspectives on the program and how it benefits people in pain.
Pain BC's Board of Directors: What's new

Pain BC's volunteer Board of Directors develops Pain BC's long-term plans, reviews significant issues and evaluates the reach of our programs and initiatives.

This month, we welcomed our newest Board member, Joanne Jung, and said goodbye to Board member Michelle Adkins.

As a pharmacy benefits consultant at Willis Towers Watson and practicing clinical pharmacist with Fraser Health, Joanne brings a unique combination of drug plan expertise and hands-on experience working with people with chronic pain in many different clinical areas. She has partnered with a wide range of Canadian organizations, in both the private and public sectors, to design and implement forward-thinking health benefit management strategies. We're very excited to have Joanne on the Pain BC Board!

Michelle Adkins is a member of the Haida Nation, who has most recently worked as the Executive Director with the First Nations Health Authority. Since she joined the Pain BC board in early 2019, Michelle has strengthened our governance with her keen attention brought from her career as a lawyer and former federal government leader in the justice system, and has helped us strengthen our work with Indigenous communities. We extend our deepest gratitude to Michelle for her commitment to people in pain and wish her all the best on the next chapter in her career!
Our supports for people with pain
Access our free pain self-management resources, including evidence-based articles, assessment tools, and an anonymous discussion forum.
Connect with a trained volunteer to talk about your pain, get help with finding a new physician, find information on community resources, and much more.
Join an online group and build a community of support while learning about pain, pain management and coping strategies.
Receive one-on-one phone support and mentorship from a coach who will help you learn about self-management, regaining function and improving your well-being.
Gentle Movement @ Home: Guided movement and relaxation for pain during COVID-19 (and beyond)

Gentle Movement @ Home online sessions provide guided movement and relaxation designed to help people with persistent pain learn to feel safe to move again. Topics include breath awareness and regulation, body tension regulation, and movement and relaxation techniques in both seated and standing positions.

All 37 session recordings are available and free to access on demand via our YouTube channel.
2020 Interdisciplinary Pain Education Day sees greatest attendance in conference's history

On October 23, 2020, Pain BC and Providence Health Care co-hosted the 2020 Interdisciplinary Pain Education Day, an annual one-day conference that fosters ongoing pain education and networking opportunities for health care providers and, for the first time, people living with pain. This year’s conference was offered virtually and saw the greatest attendance since its inception more than a decade ago – more than 600 people registered from across Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Patient advocate and former Pain BC Vice Chair, Keith Meldrum, opened the conference by sharing his lived experience of persistent pain and the importance of three simple words: “I believe you.” Keith’s presentation set the tone for the day, which explored transitional pain, nutrition and pain, neuromodulation, best practices for opioid stewardship programs, and advances in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) management. All six presentations were inspired by the International Association for the Study of Pain’s 2020 theme of “Pain prevention and early intervention for chronic pain.”
Upcoming Pain BC and partner workshops, webinars and courses for health care providers
Online workshop: Chronic Pain Management for Registered Massage Therapists
This workshop provides RMTs with an opportunity to learn how modifications of traditional massage therapy practices can increase success and improve outcomes for people in pain.

Due to COVID-19, our workshops are now offered online via Zoom and are accessible to RMTs from any region of the province. Please note that, in its new online format, the course will be broken up into two-hour blocks and will be held over three days.

Upcoming dates:

  • November 20-22, 2020: Register now (Register before October 30 for the early-bird rate)
BC ECHO for Chronic Pain: Cycle 3 registration now open
Health care providers of all disciplines are invited to join our virtual community of practice to gain improved competence in providing care for complex pain cases. Cycle 3 begins on September 15, 2020 and will run until June 2021. Providers have the option to register for individual sessions or for the entire cycle. A full list of dates and topics can be found on our website.

Gentle Movement and Relaxation course
This free, online course will equip physiotherapists and other therapeutic movement professionals with practical knowledge and teaching resources to lead their own movement and relaxation programs for people living with chronic pain.

The Gentle Movement and Relaxation course is currently available to BC health care providers only.

Pain Foundations
This online course is designed to address the challenges faced by health care providers of all disciplines when assessing and treating people living with chronic pain. The course is free for health care providers in BC; a pricing structure for other geographical locations is coming soon.

Other programs, opportunities and resources
Upcoming webinar: Canadian Pain Task Force: Present and future; quest for a national pain strategy
November 18, 2020 at 3:00PM PST

The Canadian Pain Society is hosting a webinar on November 18, 2020 to provide an update on the work of the Canadian Pain Task Force, which was formed by the Government of Canada in March 2019 to assess the current state of pain in Canada, identify best practices to prevent and manage chronic pain, and to facilitate the implementation of these practices across the country. Our Executive Director, Maria Hudspith also a Task Force co-chair will be among the presenters. The webinar is free for CPS members and $50.00 for non-members.
Free substance use support program for BC caregivers

A new program from the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) is providing free services and support to caregivers of older adults who use alcohol and other substances, or whose wellness is impacted by taking multiple prescribed medications. The Thrive program provides peer support groups, workshops, and other educational opportunities. Anyone interested in accessing this program is encouraged to contact Michee Hamilton at [email protected].
Upcoming webinar: Shut up and listen! A patient takeover
November 27, 2020 at 12:00PM PST

Le Pub Scientifique is hosting an upcoming webinar on November 27, 2020, during which two pain advocates - Keith Meldrum and Joletta Belton - will share their lived experiences with pain and how they have shaped their knowledge, thoughts, opinions, and recommendations on the future of care for people with persistent pain. Tickets range from £20.00 to £35.00 GBP.

Keith is a former Vice Chair of Pain BC's Board of Directors and has more recently been involved with the IASP Global Alliance of Pain Patient Advocates (GAPPA) as a founding and Presidential Task Force member. Joletta Belton has similarly contributed to Pain BC's work, including as a guest on our Pain Waves podcast and as a webinar presenter for health care providers.
Free weekly virtual support groups for BC caregivers
Thursdays from 2:00-3:30PM PST

Family Caregivers of BC offers free weekly virtual support groups to provide caregivers from across the province with an ongoing opportunity to connect with others and share their experiences in a safe and confidential space. Groups meet on Thursdays from 2:00-3:30PM. While meetings are free to attend, registration is required to secure your spot.
Free mental health and substance use support for Canadians

Wellness Together Canada, a free program funded by the Government of Canada, was recently created in response to the rise in mental distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides Canadians with free mental health and substance use support, resources, and counselling with a mental health professional.
Engagement opportunity for Canadian veterans with pain

The Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans, a research centre launched in May 2020 to improve understanding on veteran-specific chronic pain, is interested in hearing about the experiences of veterans with chronic pain. If you are a Canadian veteran, they encourage you to share your story by emailing [email protected].
Free employment support for people with disabilities

The Neil Squire Society's Working Together program provides free support to people with disabilities who are seeking employment. The program can help with career and personal development, support with sharpening resumes and with job searches, and by providing many resources on distance learning technologies and developing/upgrading digital skills. Anyone interested is encouraged to find out more at the link below.
Research and engagement opportunities
Research opportunity for people with spinal cord injuries

Researchers from the ICORD spinal cord injury research centre are looking for people living with spinal cord injuries in Canada and the US to help test the effectiveness of a smartphone app for managing their health. Those who participate will be compensated for their time.
Feedback opportunity: PharmaCare coverage for medication for spinal muscular atrophy
Available until November 18, 2020

The Ministry of Health is considering coverage of Zolgensma® (onasemnogene abeparvovec) for spinal muscular atrophy under PharmaCare and is seeking input from both patients and caregivers as part of their review. Anyone interested in providing feedback can do so online until November 18, 2020.
Study on immersive multimedia experiences for cancer patients with chronic pain

The UBC School of Nursing and SFU School of Interactive Arts + Technology are looking for people with a current or past cancer diagnosis who also experience chronic pain to participate in a study that tests the use of immersive multimedia experiences as a form of pain management. Research participants will be able to complete the study from their home and will be provided with an honorarium for their time. More information on the study, including eligibility, can be accessed here. To apply, please contact Crystal Sun, Project Manager at [email protected].
In the news
Delivering transformative action in pediatric pain: a Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Commission
This kit examines how unrecognized pain in childhood can lead to long-lasting consequences and reviews the available tools, expertise and evidence to provide better care for children living with pain.
My COVID-19 fears as a chronically ill person are valid
A British Columbian shares some insight on how, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people living with chronic illness have different needs, experiences and limitations, and that support - not criticism or judgment - from loved ones is essential.
A Buzzfeed editor's new book takes on a once-taboo world of chronic pain
A Buzzfeed staff writer is interviewed about a new book based on her experience living with endometriosis - a painful and chronic condition that impacts 1 in 10 women worldwide.
We are what we eat: How food can help manage chronic pain
This article discusses the roles food and nutrition can play in managing pain while providing some overall recommendations for what to eat more and less of.
Crackdown podcast: Cut off
This recent podcast episode by Garth Mullins, a researcher, writer, and activist with lived experience of substance use, looks at the impacts of opioid de-prescribing on people with substance use disorder and chronic pain.
What do occupational therapists add to pain management?
Dr. Bronnie Lennox Thompson uses her professional experience to shed light on what occupational therapists can add to an individual's plan.
How you can make realistic to do lists when you're chronically ill
The author of this article shares how pacing can help with creating realistic to-do lists when living with a chronic illness.
Every Child Every Time: Painfully Aware blog series
In this blog by the Every Child Every Time initiative in Manitoba, a young adult shares their experience of living with chronic pain since the age of thirteen.
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