Background Many bereaved people regret not capturing the voice and life story of loved ones who have died. Equally, being interviewed about their life is known to be therapeutic for the dying person and is a key strategy to underpin dignity. (Chochinov 2002)
Aims The new charity, The Hospice Biographers, will train journalists to interview hospice patients, in a systematic and sensitive way, to capture the voice and life story as a precious audio legacy for the next generation. Journalists are capable and incisive interviewers, and ideally suited. Over the next five years the aim is to record patients at 200 hospices across the UK so that families will still be able to hear the voice and stories long after their relative has died.
Method Hospices are invited to recommend journalists they already know and trust (or their own Communications staff) to volunteer for training by The Hospice Biographer team in clusters of five or six hospices per region. In each regional group, one hospice will host the training. The training course includes practical technical support, open interviewing techniques, privacy and confidentiality, emotional resilience, safeguarding and hospice regulation. Each hospice will then be supplied with a bespoke audio recorder specifically designed for use by Hospice Biographers. A pilot training course for six hospices and 12 journalists in the West Midlands was completed in May 2017 and has been evaluated via a structured questionnaire.
Results Lessons from the pilot included comments on the scope of training and the need for more practical instruction in the use of the recorder.
Next Steps A nationwide hospice road trip has confirmed huge interest in the project! A further five hospices and 10 journalists will be trained in October. Capacity planning and grant applications are in now in progress to support national roll-out.
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