The Butterfly Service supports children and young people (C/YP) up to 18 who face or have experienced bereavement due to a life-limiting illness. It acknowledges the need to identify and support each individual’s grief primarily through group work and individual counselling/therapy. The benefit of using an arts-based qualitative process to identify personal needs and evaluate individual experiences was explored.
An art template was created, using the symbols of the heart (representing love and emotions) and the butterfly (service symbol). Two hearts made the wings of the ‘heart butterfly, one to be completed about the C/YP special person and the other about the C/YP time at the Butterfly Service.
As part of the Butterfly Service’s fifth birthday celebrations all of the C/YP who used the service had the opportunity to complete a ‘Butterfly Heart’ at an art workshop. They were interviewed on camera talking about their completed ‘Heart Butterfly’, if willing. A short film was created and shown at the birthday celebration event attended by many of the C/YP and families who were supported by the service over the last five years. A display of the original ‘Heart Butterfly’ artwork was shown at this event and a photographic record of each ‘Heart Butterfly was created.
The idea behind the ‘Heart Butterfly’ is that each C/YP can express and record their feelings about their special person, their experience of the Butterfly Service and the difference it made in their grief journey.
This art evaluation tool
provided a developmentally accessible way for C/YP to tell their stories
facilitated expression of thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to put into words
acknowledged their grief and encouraged communication with their family
is an effective method of assessing the needs of C/YP and gaining feedback on their experience of bereavement.
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