Background Expressive arts are increasingly being used within Palliative Care (PC) to add to desired outcomes. We wished to develop these techniques working with families in a hospice setting.
Aims To explore & evaluate the use of documentary film making techniques in PC to support families and patients.
Method A film artist, resident in a hospice for a year, worked with staff, patients & families using & teaching camera & editing skills to produce documentary films. They took part in a series of qualitative interviews to explore their experience. 30 interviews were completed, transcribed verbatim & entered into Nvivo 7 for thematic analysis.
Results 12 families made films in an iterative process that included reflective listening & screening, which this paper will analyse as ‘mirroring’. These films had various purposes such as ‘legacies’, made for those facing bereavement, ‘portraits’ allowing the family to see & take stock of their life stories; ‘play spaces’, where family members could express the parts of themselves that may get submerged in the problem-solving ethos of dealing with illness.
Conclusion The families found making a documentary film about their life brought them together, allowing them to ‘tell their story’ & leave a legacy of family archive. Patients reported they enjoyed specifically seeing the closeness between the family members & the positive functioning of the family reflected in the film. The legacy aspect of the film is of particular importance to patients with young children. Documentary film goes further than the traditional ‘memory box’, it captures the day-to-day life of the family together reflecting the relationship the patient has with his/her family as well as mirroring the family identity. Working with a film artist in a hospice has equipped the staff with new technical knowledge & a ground-breaking documentary intervention to use with families in a PC setting.
Funding : Creative Scotland
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