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P-39  Enabling young people to explore their understanding of death through drama
  1. Sarah Popplestone-Helm and
  2. Daniel Morgan
  1. St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester, UK


“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act IV Scene III

The hospice received funding from the local Clinical Commissioning Group to support schools in South Worcestershire. The aim was to enable a more balanced and healthier view of death, dying and bereavement within the school environment.

Using part of this grant the hospice worked in partnership with a local senior school, to develop Year 11 pupils’ knowledge and understanding of death and bereavement through drama; they planned to produce an assessed performance for their GCSE.

Fifteen Year 11 pupils visited the hospice; they had a formal talk on hospice work and met with a bereaved person and asked questions regarding the family’s experience. A comprehensive tour of the building gave them insight into the work undertaken and of the environment.

During the visit, they wrote down one word describing their expectations. They were asked to repeat the exercise at the end of the visit. It was clear that their expectations were different from the reality of hospice work.

The final production included stories that the pupils had heard whilst at the hospice, the wedding of a patient, the creation of a memory box for a child, the importance of honesty and trust. All of these themes were explored through drama in a sensitive and informed way.

This has become an annual event. This year’s cohort of drama students will be considering the Hospice Care Week on ‘Connecting Care’. The potential for an increased understanding of death within the younger generation is crucial to the demystifying of hospice work. A more balanced and healthier view of death, dying and bereavement is to be encouraged.

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