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P-91 Life stories poster – telling it as it is
  1. Joan Follett and
  2. Doreen Beattie
  1. Rennie Grove Hospice Care, St Albans, UK

Abstract

In recent years, recording of oral histories has become the focus of increasing interest, and evidence has emerged that reminiscence and legacy activities can have a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Having listened to comments from our patients, and after reading about the positive effects on mood and self-esteem of recording the stories of terminally-ill patients in a hospice setting, we decided to introduce a Life Stories project within Day Hospice.

Patients who express an interest in the project have up to 3 meetings with a writer who listens to their story, asking a minimum of questions unless some prompting is necessary. The writer then prepares the patient’s Life Story, together with any photographs the patient wishes to include. The finished Life Story belongs to the patient and it is up to them what they wish to do with it or who they wish to share it with.

There are many methods of recording Life Stories but the methods used in this Day Hospice setting has been shown to be very effective and allows the patient to direct the story themselves.

We have completed 25 stories to date, and have received many positive comments from patients and their relatives. Patients seem to respond well to spending time with an ‘interested stranger’ who has no connexion with their clinical care, and frequently recount stories which their families have not heard before.

We believe that giving patients undivided attention, and time to reminisce and reflect on their lives, helps them to feel valued, improves their sense of self-worth and provides a written legacy for them to keep and to pass on to their families.

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