Parish Nurse Notes

carole b

Happy Retirement to Carole Beam!

RN/Parish Nurse,

St. Mark’s United Church

2008 – 2019

Carole’s Corner 

February 3 – St. Mark’s has a wonderful new ministry called “Soup for Kindness”. Our talented chefs regularly make nourishing jars of soup as gifts for those who might need a little kindness.  Do you visit members of the congregation? Perhaps you pay a friendly call to someone who has difficulty getting to church. Perhaps you deliver a CD of Sunday worship or perhaps you are concerned about a friend or a neighbour. Before you visit, or deliver the CD, or check in on the friend, stop at the St. Mark’s kitchen after worship and pick up a jar of soup to take with you. Can’t visit that day? The soup will keep in your fridge for several days or can be successfully frozen until you can make your visit.  Perhaps you just need a little kindness for yourself, please feel free to take a jar for you.  There is a sign-up sheet in the kitchen for you to write the name of the recipient, so that we can track the deliveries. There is a basket of labels that say the soup is a gift from St. Mark’s with a reminder to return the jar. This jar of soup fills the body, the gift fills the mind and the visit fills the spirit.  Very special thanks to Tori Hazlett, Silvana McCrum and Sue Coulter for this nutritious new ministry.


January 27 – Bell Let’s Talk Day was initiated in 2011 to bring awareness to the growing issues of mental illness. Founding spokesperson and former Canadian Olympian, Clara Hughes, reminds us that “Mental illness affects each and every one of us in some way.”

Bell Let’s talk has developed four pillars for action:

Anti-stigma: avoid language like “crazy”, “schizo”, “just relax”, “you’ll get over it”. Think of how you would react to someone with an illness like cancer or heart disease. Mental issues are illnesses as well.

Care and Access: Financial awards have been given to health care facilities to open mental health centres. Tool kits are available for workplaces and schools to educate and support employees and students.

Research: Funds received are used for world class research for new treatments and supports.

Workplace Health: Mental illness is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and represents 15% of Canada’s health care burden. A National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace has been developed.


January 20 – This has been an unusual winter thus far, very little snow and fluctuating temperatures, contributing to icy walkways.  Regardless of conditions there is an increased risk of falls during the winter months.  Reduced daylight makes it more difficult to see icy patches or uneven surfaces.

Footwear is important. Low heels with grip soles give better traction. For those of you who like to walk in the winter there are boot grips available at reasonable prices. There is a flyer of grip options on the Parish Nursing Bulletin Board. If you use a cane, there are ice grips available in most medical supply stores in Durham.

Wear layers of clothing (especially during the temperature fluctuations so common this winter). If you plan to shop in a warm mall, leave your heavy coat in the car. Gloves and hats are a necessity. The myth of major heat loss through the head has been debunked however uncovered extremities like fingers and ears are vulnerable to frost bite. Lack of sunlight and poor outdoor conditions can lead to winter depression.  Invite friends in for tea, buy a bunch of tulips, buy a spring gardening magazine, or chat on the phone if it is impossible to get out. (I take a trip to a garden centre when I feel winter blues).  For further information please see the Parish Nursing Bulletin Board in the Upper Hall.


January 13 – Cannabis use is now legal in Canada.  More than 30% of Canadians admitted to Health Canada that they used cannabis daily (2013).  Canadians need to be aware of important regulations.  It is illegal to transport cannabis (even for medical reasons) across the border regardless of the amount in your possession. This can result in criminal charges at home and abroad. Previous use of cannabis, or any other substance prohibited by local law, could result in a traveller being denied entry to his or her destination country.  Each country or territory decides who can enter or exit.  If you do carry cannabis when entering Canada you are required to declare it to Canada Border Services Agency. Failure to disclose can result in arrest and prosecution.  Drug impaired driving is increasing. Under new legislation, if a police officer at a traffic stop is suspicious of cannabis use, he or she can demand an oral fluid sample. Even if the sample is negative, the officer may see indications of drug use. A standard sobriety test will be done and may lead to arrest.   Some people who suffer from chronic pain have reported relief from the use of medical grade cannabis. Discussion with your health care provider will be helpful.  For further information, please see an article entitled Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis posted on the Parish Nursing Bulletin Board.  Information from Health Canada can be accessed online at


January 6 – January is the month that is set aside to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s disease. This and other forms of dementia affect one in ten adults over the age of 65, and one in two over the age of 90. Many families are caring for their affected loved one at home, especially in the early to moderate stages of the disease.  Caregiver stress is a common result. Conscious effort to protect caregivers is vital. If you, or someone you know is caring for a loved one at home, here are some strategies:

  • Learn about the disease, so that you can comprehend and adapt to changes.
  • Be realistic about the disease and the progression over time.
  • Be realistic about yourself and the extent of your capabilities.
  • Accept your feelings and recognize that you are doing the best you can.
  • Share information and feelings with others; join a caregiver support group with the Alzheimer’s Society.
  • Be positive, focus on what the person can do, not on the skill/ability that was lost.
  • Look for humour; this is a good coping strategy.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat properly, keep health care appointments, keep in touch with family and friends and take breaks (use day programs for caregiver respite).
  • Get help; it is impossible to care for an individual with dementia alone.
  • Plan for the future while the loved one is still capable of decision making. Discuss finances and health care options.

Adapted from the Alzheimer’s Society: Reducing Caregiver Stress.