Edward Cruz Edward Cruz is leading a study focusing on caregivers of loved ones with mental illness and addictions. Many of the needs identified in the study will be addressed at an upcoming conference entitled Caring for the Caregiver.

Study identifies what caregivers need most

The personal stories of people caring for loved ones with mental illness or addictions tug at Edward Cruz’s heart.

The UWindsor nursing professor recalls the dread some said they felt at the prospect of taking ill or dying. Who would care for their loved ones then?

Some never take a vacation for fear of leaving their loved one alone. Some are afraid to leave the house for even a few hours.

Others spoke of putting their lives on hold, quitting their jobs, or using retirement savings for their loved ones’ care.

“Caregivers make significant sacrifices in their time, finances, and even their own health in order to care for a loved one with mental illness or addictions,” said Dr Cruz.

“Their dedication to their loved ones is immeasurable, but it’s heartbreaking.”

Cruz has led a study that included a survey and interviews with dozens of caregivers in Windsor and Essex County. In response to the findings, Cruz and collaborators at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and the WE-Spark Health Institute are putting on a virtual conference next month called “Caring for the Caregiver” to address some of recurring themes that arose in the research.

The conference will include information sessions on specific psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and substance use. There will be sessions addressing compassion fatigue, how to navigate the healthcare system, consent and privacy, and the Mental Health Act. Panels of caregivers will share their experiences and there will be opportunities for participants to connect with each other as peers.

The idea behind the study and conference originated with the Mental Health and Addictions Patient and Family Advisory Council, said Patrick Kolowicz, director of mental health and addictions at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

“The group of more than 10 individuals, some caregivers themselves, noticed a need and acted on this,” said Kolowicz. “Caregivers, who often go unnoticed, are individuals who help our mental health and addictions system function. Supporting them is critical.”

Clementa Stan, career advising co-ordinator in the Odette School of Business, serves on the council and approached Cruz about assisting caregivers.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 16 and 23. Registration is open now at www.wesparkhealth.com/caregiver-conference. Attendees can register for both days or just one.

Cruz intends to conduct surveys with caregivers following the conference.

Cruz and UWindsor alumna Jennifer Voth, research associate in Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s research and evaluation services department, received a $13,000 grant from WE-Spark to conduct the study. WE-Spark, a partnership among the University, Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, and St. Clair College, helps fund local health research, providing seed grants that often lead to larger research projects.

Dr. Voth said the project comes at an important time.

“Caregiving for a family member who is experiencing long-term mental illness is a demanding role,” she said. “This is even more pronounced during this pandemic when both individuals with mental illness as well as their caregivers may be experiencing intense feelings brought about by physical distancing that can further impact their mental health and overall well-being.”

The study, funded through WE-Spark this year, has provided research opportunities for students in UWindsor’s Faculty of Nursing.

—Sarah Sacheli

Dusty JohnstoneRespect for the individual is the guiding principle of the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention, Resistance, and Support, says Dusty Johnstone.

Office of Sexual Violence Prevention, Resistance, and Support focuses on the individual

Support, awareness, and education around sexual violence is at the heart of the work of the University of Windsor’s newly renamed Office of Sexual Violence Prevention, Resistance, and Support (OSVPRS), though respect for the individual is its guiding principle, says sexual misconduct officer Dusty Johnstone.

“Our office exists, foremost, to provide support to members of our campus community who have experienced any form of sexual violence or sexually inappropriate behaviour,” Dr. Johnstone says.

“It’s important that students, faculty, and staff know that they can seek our help under any circumstances, without any obligation to formally report. We can speak confidentially. I’m here to listen, and what happens next is up to them.”

Johnstone says sexual misconduct includes all forms of sexually inappropriate behaviour and sexual violence, and includes — but is not limited to — rape and sexual assault, sexual and gender-based harassment, stalking, cyber harassment, and relationship violence.

She says she is there to listen and support, regardless of when an incident occurred.

“Whether it was recently or a long time ago, you deserve to be listened to and heard,” she says. “I can also connect individuals with counselling and medical services if that is their choice, as well as reporting options, both on campus and to the police. If they choose to file a formal complaint, I will be there as a touchpoint for them throughout the process and can help arrange academic and workplace accommodations, as well safety planning.”

She says her office is committed to compassion, dignity, and respect for those who seek help, with their voices and choices coming first. As well, OSVPRS offers a wide variety of educational and awareness training workshops for all members of the campus community, including:

  • the University’s Bystander Initiative, which provides training on how to recognize and intervene safely in situations that may lead to sexual assault;
  • Flip the Script sexual assault resistance education for university women;
  • Wen-Do Women’s Self-Defense and Acts of Resistance, self-defence training for the LGBTQ+ community; and
  • online training in responding to disclosure of sexual assault, and issues of sexual wellness and consent.

Most recently, the University has partnered with REES (Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors), a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week centralized online reporting and information platform that provides increased options for students, staff, and faculty to report sexual violence. The tool, customized to the specific needs of the University of Windsor, includes crucial information about resources and supports available both on campus and in community, as well as offering three reporting options that include Anonymous Report, Connect to My Campus, and Repeat Perpetrator Identification.

“REES now provides our campus community with a reporting option that is safe, secure, and allows individuals to report their incident and empower themselves with the option of having their voice heard in whatever way they choose,” Johnstone says.

“We want to be here for members of our campus community in any way that is comfortable for them and provides the support they need based on their individual experience and choices.”

Jay Jones superimposed on school buildingJay Jones will discuss the impact of Residential Schools in an online presentation Thursday, Sept. 16.

Speaker to address impact of residential schools

An online presentation Thursday, Sept. 16, will centre on the residential school experience and the intergenerational effects of residential schools.

Guest speaker Jay Jones is the son of Shingwauk Residential School survivors, president of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association, and a member of Walpole Island First Nation He is a designer by trade at General Motors and an advocate of the Indian Residential Schools story and Special Olympic athletes.

His talk, entitled “The Impact of Residential Schools,” will run 5 to 6 p.m. on the Zoom videoconference platform. Register here to attend.

The event is hosted by the Turtle Island Aboriginal Education Centre iIn partnership with the St. Clair College – Indigenous Student Services, Student Representative Council, and Thames Students association.

woman wearing boxing gloves titled "Take a Jab"

Time running out to Take a Jab and win big

Friday is the last day to enter UWindsor’s Take a Jab contest for a chance to win one of four grand prizes valued at up to $3,000.

All you have to do is share your #TakeaJabUWindsor story with your friends, family, and community before Friday, Sept. 17 and you could win:

  • An Apple iPad Air
  • or Apple MacBook
  • or Microsoft Surface
  • or $3,000 tuition voucher

The winner will be selected at 1 p.m. on Sept. 17, and announced on @uwindsor Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

We want to hear how you are encouraging others to do their part to K.O. COVID by getting the COVID vaccine.

Civil engineering prof Rajeev Ruparathna standing in front of apartment buildingCivil engineering prof Rajeev Ruparathna is looking toward the construction of more resilient multi-unit, residential buildings.

Civil engineering prof aiming to build resiliency in homes

An increase in natural disasters and pandemics has prompted an engineering researcher to create a solution that enables the resilient construction of multi-unit, residential buildings.

Apartments are gaining popularity in Canada, says Rajeev Ruparathna, a civil engineering professor at the University of Windsor.

“Considering the increase in frequency and magnitude of natural disasters and the recent tragic condo collapse in Miami that killed nearly 100 people, we see an urgent call for more resilient Multi-Unit Residential Buildings,” he says.

But Dr. Ruparathna says there is a lack of resources to support this, especially during design and construction. His latest project addresses this gap by developing resources to ensure the resiliency of multi-unit homes through a Building Information Modeling (BIM)-based rule set that allows engineers and architects to check a building design for resiliency principles.

The BIM rule set will be based on guidelines in the National Building Code, Canadian Electric Code, National Fire Code, Canada Standard Association standards, and BOMA Canada Resilience Brief.

“In British Columbia, wildfires are predicted to increase, and current development plans around floodplains place communities at a high risk of flooding due to changing weather patterns,” Ruparathna says. “Moreover, more pandemics are expected in the future. Based on the learnings of COVID-19, it is important to ensure the safety of building occupants.”

Supported by a British Columbia Housing (BC Housing) Building Excellence Research & Education Grant, the project will utilize BC building guidelines and can be extended to comply with provincial regulations across Canada.

“Our research outcomes aim to maintain the performance of a building during and after hazards, reduce damage and performance errors, and minimize recovery time and costs, which will ensure the health and safety of building users,” Ruparathna says.

The Building Information Modeling has been revolutionizing the construction sector, but on a global scale, Canada has been lagging in the technology’s adaptation, he adds.

Ruparathna touts BIM for its increased efficiency; reduced errors and waste; and enhanced communication, collaboration, and sustainability.

“These benefits support low-cost, timely, and sustainable residential construction,” he says.

Once the project is complete, Ruparathna will host a workshop with BIM practitioners, construction associations, BC Housing, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to disseminate research findings and recommendations.

Windsor Engineering logoUWindsor Engineering’s fall newsletter features the latest faculty news and events.

Newsletter shares developments in Faculty of Engineering

Read a message from the new dean of engineering and learn how researchers are improving the safety and reliability of electric vehicle battery reuse and helping design more resilient residential buildings.

UWindsor Engineering’s fall newsletter features the latest faculty news and events. The online newsletter is distributed quarterly to engineering alumni, students, staff, faculty, and industrial and community partners.

To automatically receive the newsletter by email, visit the faculty’s subscription webpage.

Mya Iriah, Jayden Larocque, and Reine NdomeLancers Mya Iriah, Jayden Larocque, and Reine Ndome participate in the Run4Anti-Racism organized by the women’s basketball team Sept. 11 and 12.

Still time to give to anti-racism event

The second annual Lancer Run4Anti-Racism was held last weekend, but organizers want the campus community to know it’s not too late to join.

Members of the varsity women’s basketball team hosted the event in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to take a stand against systemic racism.

“Our Lancer family welcomes many athletes that self-identify as a visible minority, and we want to continue to increase their representation, well-being, and success while offering a safe and welcoming environment,” says head coach Chantal Vallée.

She notes that more than half the sport’s coaches in Canadian universities are men, and fewer than one in six self-identify as members of a visible minority.

“Part of the money we raise will be used to create an internship position with the University of Windsor women’s basketball team for a female who self-identifies as a visible minority looking to pursue a career in coaching.”

Another portion will support the Sandwich Teen Action Group, a community-based non-profit that works provides programming for marginalized youth. Lancer grad Miah-Marie Langlois, a four-time national champion with the squad and a former Olympian, benefited from the centre’s mentoring.

Limited numbers of a T-shirt specially designed by members of the Lancer team stating what “We Stand For” are available for purchase for $20 in support of the cause. Find details on the event website.

graphic: Supervisor's ToolkitThe Department of Human Resources encourages supervisors to view the “Helping Our Teams Cope with Return to Campus Anxiety” information sheet.

Information sheet highlights how to help teams cope with Return-to-Campus anxiety

Human Resources has added a new information sheet to the Supervisor’s Toolkit launched earlier this year to share best practices on a wide array of topics with individuals in supervisory positions.

After working virtually for more than a year and seeing co-workers and students only on the screen, the thought of coming back to campus and having in-person interactions can feel overwhelming. Some employees may be feeling anxious about returning to routines that were once comfortable but have now become unfamiliar. The greatest adjustment will be around boundaries and physical distancing.

The information sheet highlights:

  • Why some individuals may be anxious about returning to campus
  • How to cope with feelings of anxiety
  • How people leaders can help

The Department of Human Resources encourages supervisors to view the “Helping Our Teams Cope with Return to Campus Anxiety” information sheet on the toolkit website. An accompanying document that supervisors can share with employees can also be found on the website.