Background Post COVID-19 anxiety is still high and this exacerbates fears that may have already existed around hospices and end of life care. Patients and families have a wealth of experience to share. Using the arts we bring together patients and families with schools and colleges in our rural community, along with the Brit School in London to work together on an arts project.
Aims To bring communities together, in a creative and non-threatening way using the arts (Hartley & Payne (eds.). The creative arts in palliative care. 2008). To give a context to have difficult conversations on end of life. To traverse some of the barriers/distrust that can be created in small communities. To bring together different groups of people, from different socioeconomic backgrounds and generations. To combat social isolation at end of life (Marie Curie, 2022).
Method A collaborative and inclusive arts project run over four days. Feedback form and discussions at the end of the project. Celebration at the end in recognition of the investment from all involved and to promote the project.
Results Patients, families and students challenge fears and prejudices at end of life. Confidence gained and patients engaged in dancing, speaking and sharing stories to an audience. Patients felt involved in something important and felt relevant at the end of their lives.
Conclusion Patients and families felt valued and heard when sharing their experiences. When we give these opportunities to young people the message ripples out and enables positive change in attitudes. It breaks through the isolation/social death that can occur at the end of life and enables people to feel they can contribute and make a difference. The connections across the generations are vital when our communities so easily become separate and with this fear and suspicion can grow. Bringing the ‘kids down from London’ made a huge difference to the community.
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