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P57 Developing an oral history service in a hospice
  1. Clare Williams and
  2. Judith Park
  1. St Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield, UK


Background/context This poster describes the development and implementation of an oral history service at St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield. Oral history involves an interviewer questioning and recording an interviewee. The service was modelled on a successful service at a local palliative care centre.

Aim Patients using the hospice’s day centre and in-patient unit would be offered the opportunity to make an audio recording of their life story. Patients would receive a copy of their story on CD and extra copies would be available to their family and friends with the patient’s agreement.

Approach used The service started with a pilot where two patients took part in an interview and then gave feedback. This was positive and so the service was launched. Initially, a member of staff who was a trained oral historian conducted the interviews, but demand for the service led to 20 volunteers being recruited to carry out the interviews. Volunteers were trained in areas such as interview technique, use of recording equipment, ethics, and working with seriously ill patients.

Outcomes To date, 29 patients have used the service and 48 interviews have been recorded. Some patients have used the service to record final messages for family, and one has made a ‘Desert Island Discs’ style recording complete with music. Others have produced photo books to accompany recordings. The hospice is now able to offer the service to patients looked after at home by our Community nurses. It continues to receive positive feedback from patients and their relatives.

Application to hospice practice The service’s model could be used by other hospices to set up their own oral history service. The hospice is also participating in a research study which aims to provide empirical evidence as to the benefits of oral history in palliative care.

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