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Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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Safe BBQing techniques to enjoy a healthy Labour Day weekend

Screen Shot 2017 08 31 at 5.28.20 PM

 

With labour day just around the corner, I wanted to share with you some basic rules for food safety in meal preparation that was shared on on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website.

According to Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins and Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, reminding Ontarians of proper food preparations is key to avoiding food born illnesses.

In the summertime, food poisoning increases due to more people preparing food on the grill, defrosting raw meats like burgers, and making more salads on flat surfaces. To avoiding cross contamination and food poisoning, follow these simple rules.

Clean you hands often when preparing meals, clean surfaces and utensils with soapy warm water. Bacteria loves getting onto hands and in cutting boards, kitchen ware, cloths, knives, etc.

Keep raw meat separated from ready to eat foods like veggies, fruits, breads, and salads. Keep the separate both when you’re preparing them and as you store them.

Thoroughly cook all your food, especially meats and poultry but also veggies if you’re cooking them on the safe grill.

Keep food and leftovers in the fridge and get groceries into the fridge within 2 hours of purchasing them - especially for meat, poultry and dairy products.

To ensure you’re following the guidelines above, you can take some extra precautions such as:

Using a food thermometer to test the temperature of your food as it cooks.

Never keeping food at room temperature for more than 2 hours

Don’t defrost your meat on countertops, rather keep it in a container and let it defrost slowly in the refrigerator or under cold water in the sink.

Keep packaging of your meat firm and tight, even double bag it to be sure no juice will leak onto your ready to eat foods.

Follow cooking instructions accordingly to make sure you’re preparing your food correctly and safely.

Following these tips can help you avoid the unfortunately symptoms of food poisoning that can range from mild to severe. If you do become ill and suspect food poisoning, consult a physician or go to your nearest hospital for urgent care if symptoms appear severe. By following these rules above, however, you should significantly decrease your chances of becoming ill due to food poisoning.

Enjoy your Labour Day weekend !

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Activating Your Conference

 

We, at Ophea’s Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC), are excited to be the physical activity partner for the 2017 HC Link Conference,  Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone.

As we draw nearer to the conference, we got to thinking about some ways that have helped us be more active at past conferences and events. Here are 5 tips to get active throughout the conference:

1. Take advantage of active breaks and opportunities throughout the event.

Ophea, through PARC will be offering energizers and active movement options through this exciting two-day conference. Come prepared to move! 

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2. Use the standing tables or open space to move and/or stand during the conference sessions.

HC Link will provide standing tables in the main conference space and these can be used to change your movement patterns!

3. Ensure you include movement between sessions.

Whether this is taking the long way around the conference setting, or changing the movement pattern (ex. skipping, rolling, etc.) to get from lunch to the keynote, making the most of the transition times and breaks can mean more physical activity!

4. Participate in the active opportunities before and after the conference.

Moving before and after the conference can also ensure a well rounded day, provide you an opportunity to meet and network with others and keep you refreshed for the sessions. If you will be staying over, this could include accessing the Wellness Center which includes a Fitness room, accessible 24 hours a day with your guest room key, or the pool area, which is open Monday – Friday 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

5. Make the most of the lunch break.

The BMO Institute for Learning has green space available if you would like to go for a walk or roll, if the weather is not ideal, you could also move around the building to keep the blood flowing.

You can also check out the PARC Blog, Energizer: Conference Setting for some additional ideas if you are planning your own conference or event!  If you have suggestions to share, feel free to Tweet us @parcontario. We would love to hear from you!

We look forward to moving with you at the 2017 HC Link Conference, Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone!

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New Resource from HC Link: Effective Meetings

I spend a lot of time in meetings: up to 50-80% of my time some weeks. There is nothing worse than spending time in ineffective meetings- while your to-do list grows and grows.  Designing and holding effective meetings is hardly rocket science, however ineffective meetings are a world-wide phenomenon. To the point where you can even purchase ribbons congratulating you for surviving a meeting…..Consider this quote from the Harvard Business Review:

meetingquote

That’s why HC Link created this French resource, which my HC Link colleague Robyn Kalda and I just adapted into English. In this resource, we outline three simple steps for effective meetings:

meeting steps

While, as I mentioned, this is not rocket science, it’s still pretty easy to hold an ineffective meeting. Here are some of the common pitfalls that I often see, and my advice for avoiding them:

  • Holding meetings for the sake of meetings: Set a clear purpose for each meeting. Think carefully about what it is that you need to accomplish, then determine if a meeting is the right mechanism for that. For example, if you simply need to provide an update, that can be done via email. One-on-one conversations might be more appropriate. In other cases, a quick teleconference might be adequate.
  • Not getting the right people around the table: Carefully consider exactly who needs to be in the meeting, given the purpose of the meeting. If decisions are being made at the meeting, ensure that meeting participants are able to make decisions in the meeting. If the meeting is about the implementation of a program/service, ensure that those who are involved in the execution of the program are at the meeting. Also consider if people actually need to be in the meeting, or if you can touch base with them before or after the meeting to provide an update. 
  • Prep work isn’t done ahead of the meeting: If this is a working meeting that depends on meeting participants doing/reviewing work ahead of time, ensure that they have enough time to get their work done before the meeting. Involve participants in the setting of the meeting date. Be willing to postpone the meeting if work isn’t done in time.
  • Unrealistic agendas: I’ll often review agendas for meetings where I think “we’ll be lucky to get through half of these agenda items”. I once had someone tell me that agendas are aspirational – that there is no need to actually finish the entire agenda during a meeting. I respectfully disagree. Be very realistic when you are setting the agenda, and be sure to include timing for each agenda item. It is the chair’s responsibility to keep the agenda on track and on time. However, there is a balance to be struck here: sometimes unexpected discussions need to take place, occasionally I’ve had to toss out entire agendas and start again. It’s important to read the group and be flexible as well.
  • Technology: Technology is a double-edged sword: it can provide a way for participation from other locations; it can also waste precious time in meetings if you are struggling to get the tech working. If you are going to use technology in a meeting, be sure that you have tested everything ahead of time and that participants are familiar with how to use it. A backup plan is a good idea too.
  • Starting late- and often ending late too. Start and end meetings on time. The end.

Now go forth and hold effective meetings! If you need advice, call HC Link! Our consultants love to give advice on how to make your meetings efficient and worthwhile.

Helpful Resources

For a little fun – check out these videos Teleconferences in Real Life and Every Meeting Ever.

HC Link’s Facilitation for Healthy Communities Toolkit and The Power of Reflection: An introduction to participatory evaluation techniques provide many excellent tips and techniques that can be used in meetings.

This excellent article from the Harvard Business Review lists the 6 purposes of meetings and the different types of meetings.

This blog post from GovLeaders.org lists 6 Golden Rules of Meeting Management. 

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"Pay-what-you-can" meals change the world.

soup bar by feed it forward

Image Source: The Toronto Star

 

Jagger Gordan, Canadian chef and founder of Feed it Forward has recently opened "Soup Bar", a pay-what-you-can soup bar located in downtown Toronto. 

The soup bar caters to people of all economic means. Chef Gordan’s concept for Soup Bar is to provide hot, healthy, and balanced meals to anyone who wants one. For every $2.50 spent, a token is placed in a jar so that those who cannot afford to pay what they can may take a token from the jar and use that as payment for their meal. 

Chef Gordan began Feed it Forward to help reduce the amount of food being wasted in supermarkets and sent to landfills. The Soup Bar provides several types of soup and a side order of bread to all that would like it. He gets his supplies from grocery stores that have planned to throw food away as he believes wasting copious amounts of food is unacceptable. Referencing France’s new law, which bans supermarkets from throwing away good unsold food, forcing them to donate it to charities and food banks, Gordon has begun an online petition in hopes of achieving similar results here in Canada.  

The Soup Bar is located at 707 Dundas Street West. For more information on Jagger Gordon and Feed it Forward, visit: http://feeditforward.ca/

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Sustainability Planning Part Three: Developing a sustainability plan

This post is part of a series of blogs on program sustainability and sustainability planning. Read the pervious posts, What is sustainability? And Components of Community Work.

I’ll be honest. I loooove planning models. When I embarked on researching models for PlanSustaindevelopingsustainability plans and did not find a pretty step model- I was disappointed. Though when it comes down to it, planning is planning! So this blog post, rather than providing a step model or planning process, summarizes important points and advice for sustainability planning.

  • Like evaluation planning, planning for sustainability should be done as early in the program development process as possible. The office of Adolescent Health has identified eight key factors1 that influence whether a service, program or its activities – and therefore community benefit- will be sustained over time.
  1. There is an action strategy or program plan
  2. An environmental scan or assessment was conducted
  3. The program is adaptable
  4. The program has community support
  5. The program can be integrated in community infrastructures
  6. There is a leadership team
  7. Strategic partnerships have been created
  8. Diverse funding sources have been secured
  • As mentioned in my first blog post, sustainability planning should focus on community need: therefore assessing the environment is critical. Look at community readiness, local demographics and existing services1. Also assess the financial and political environments. Look internally as well, assessing your own organizational environment such as leadership, staffing and infrastructure1.
  • Like any comprehensive program plan, a sustainability plan contains goals, objectives, action steps, timelines, roles1 and metrics for tracking progress on each action step2.  It should be a living plan that is regularly re-visited1.
  • In your sustainability plan, consider the four components of sustainability discussed in the second post in this series: the issue, the programs, the behaviour change, and the partnership 3.
  • Share your success! Increase the visibility of your work in the community, through the media, conference workshops, publishing case studies etc. Develop a marketing strategy that promotes the success/results of your program as well as the program itself4.
 
References
  1. Office of Adolescent Health, 2014. Building Sustainable Programs: The Framework.
  2. Calhoun, Mainor, Moreland-Russell, Maier, Brossart and Luke. Using the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool to Assess and Plan for Sustainability. Preventing Chronic Disease 2014; 11:130185
  3. Heart Health Resource Centre, 1999. @heart: Heart Health Sustainability. Toronto, Ontario
  4. Office of Adolescent Health, 2012. Build to Last: Planning Programmatic Sustainability.
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