Support the Dementia Education Program

Dementia Education Newsletter

Caring Conversations

Caring Conversations

The McGill Dementia Education Program is excited to announce another free community outreach initiative to provide virtual support for care partners.

Join a conversation with social worker Lucy Barylak and professional coach and educator Joanne Besner about topics that are important to care partners. After a short educational presentation by the hosts, there will be an opportunity to share your own concerns and ask questions.

Lucy is a McGill-educated social worker and Joanne is a former healthcare program manager.  Both have many years of experience working with care partners.

The Caring Conversations webinar platform will permit people to participate online and by telephone. When you register, you will be provided with a link to join online, and a phone number if you prefer to call in. You will need to register online to receive the link and call-in number.

Caring Conversations is being piloted in English with four episodes in the fall, and four more over the winter.  

The next episode of Caring Conversations is:

  • February 16, 2023 at 11 a.m.
    Topic: The Positive Aspects of Caregiving
    Lucy and Joanne will share research results on the positive aspects of caregiving, including the health and wellbeing benefits that it can bring.  A discussion on the value of acceptance will follow. 

Click here to register for the session on February 16 at 11 a.m.

For more information, please send an email to: dementia [at]

Past Episodes

  • September 22, 2022 at 2 p.m. 
    Topic: Caregiving and COVID Fatigue  
    Lucy and Joanne will lead a discussion about caregiving through two concurrent pandemics – COVID and mental health.  They will discuss the anguish and the triumphs and what we have learned about caregiving through both. 

  • October 25, 2022 at 11 a.m.
    Topic: How to manage challenging behaviours associated with dementia
    Lucy and Joanne will lead a discussion about and provide tips for managing difficulties with the activities of daily living, verbal or physical aggression and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

  • November 24, 2022 at 2 p.m.
    Topic: How has dementia affected how you relate to the person you support? 
    Lucy and Joanne will lead a discussion about how caring for a spouse, parent or friend affects your communication, social life and intimacy. 

  • December 20, 2022 at 11 a.m.
    Topic: Home care or Care home?
    Lucy and Joanne will talk about recognizing if it is time to transition to supervised a care home, and coping with the feelings that accompany making that type of decision. 

  • January 17, 2023 at 2 p.m.
    Topic: Conflict Amongst Caregivers 
    Joanne and Lucy will lead a discussion about what we can do when siblings, and other family members and caregivers do not agree.


Lucy BarylakLucy Barylak, MSW, is a social gerontology consultant for the CIUSSS-West-Central Montreal and a graduate of the McGill University School of Social Work, where she is also a liaison supervisor. Ms. Barylak has developed evidence-based training for seniors and caregivers, and she lectures in the field of social gerontology and knowledge transfer. She facilitates “Dear Lucy,” an online caregiver support show funded by the WellMed Foundation in the U.S. She was the founder and long-standing manager of the Caregiver Support Centre at the CLSC Rene-Cassin, a multi-service respite centre for family and informal caregivers. Ms. Barylak received the Queen’s Jubilee Award for her role in developing a national coalition to support caregivers across Canada.

Joanne BesnerJoanne Besner, BSW, MBA, PPCC, and caregiver, received her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Business Administration from McGill University, and a Professional Coaching designation from the John Molson Executive Centre at Concordia University. Ms. Besner coaches and facilitates workshops for health care professionals and community organizations, including the McGill University School of Social Work, where she is also an internship liaison supervisor. Her 35-year career in Quebec community health care spans many roles including frontline social work, clinical supervisor, manager, researcher and trainer.


Caring Conversations is supported by Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation.

Back to top