NDG community group helps men with chronic pain find their Homebase

A new Notre-Dame-de-Grâce​-based community group aims to help men deal with chronic pain beyond the doctor's office and pharmacy.

New Notre-Dame-de-Grâce​-based community group aims to help men deal with chronic pain beyond the pharmacy

Homebase participants meet at the MKRLab in NDG. They get to bring in an item that needs fixing, and get help to do it themselves. The lab also holds workshops on learning new skills, such as computer-assisted design and using a 3D printer. (Submitted by Richard Hovey)

Sean Riley will be living with chronic pain for the rest of his life.

The 37-year-old Montrealer reached a point where doctors told him his condition would never let up.

"It's hard to understand chronic pain," Riley said. "It helps to be with other men with chronic pain in this case, because men don't usually vocalize as much as women what they're feeling within that framework of living in society with chronic pain and no idea how to make it better."

That's why he joined Homebase — a new Notre-Dame-de-Grâce​-based community group that aims to help men deal with chronic pain beyond the doctor's office and pharmacy. 

Homebase's founder is Richard Hovey, an associate professor of oral health and society at McGill University and adjunct professor in community rehabilitation and disability studies at the University of Calgary.

After a cycling accident, Hovey says he began to better understand the realities of living with chronic pain. He says he wanted to create a space where men could talk about their pain and end the isolation that often comes with it.

"The idea of Homebase was then to offer people [a way] to get involved that might help them, other than using drugs or medications to numb their pain," Hovey said in an interview on CBC's All in a Weekend.

According to a 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, about nine per cent of men between the ages of 12 to 44 experienced chronic pain.

Homebase aims to help those men with initiatives like cooking classes with Concordia University's PERFORM centre in Montreal West. Participants learn how to prepare anti-inflammatory foods.

The organization also works closely with the YMCA in NDG to provide workouts that are beneficial, and aims to introduce men with chronic pain to the gym in a non-intimidating way.

Homebase participants also meet at the MKRLab in NDG. They get to bring in an item that needs fixing, and get help to do it themselves. The lab also holds workshops on learning new skills, such as computer-assisted design and using a 3D printer.

The initiative is funded by the Movember Foundation, a charitable organization that raises awareness and money for men's diseases, including prostate cancer and mental illness.

Although it's based out of NDG right now, Hovey says he's working on creating a manual on how to do the same thing in other communities.

Hovey encourages anyone interested in joining, or anyone who knows someone who could benefit from the program, to visit the organization's website.

Richard Hovey talks about his organization called "Homebase" that helps men with chronic pain through social connection and practical instruction. 8:22

About the Author

Sonali Karnick

Sonali Karnick is the host of All in a Weekend. Listen to the show on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. across Quebec.