Background What happens when archaeology meets health and social care? The Continuing Bonds Study, a pilot project lead by Dr Karina Croucher, Professor Christina Faull and Laura Green, uses case studies of the dead from the recent and distant past to spark discussions about death and dying. Via a series of workshops, the study investigates what value and consequence such materials and discussions have for health and social care students and practitioners.
Methods In this qualitative, exploratory study, 92 participants attended 21 workshops delivered in Bradford and Leicester. Themed case studies presented materials in picture, video and object formats accompanied by explanatory text. Responses to pre, post and follow-up (1–3 months) questionnaires have been analysed both descriptively and thematically. Recordings of the discussions generated in the workshops were also analysed thematically.
Results Our results confirm the project hypothesis, with 93% of survey respondents believing that archaeological materials can be used to facilitate discussions/training about death, dying, bereavement and loss. For some individuals, the follow-up questionnaire identified considerable personal and professional impacts of the workshop. 81% of the respondents remembered at least one archaeological example, effected by how interesting and emotive they perceived the material. The project had a further result, with 72% saying the workshops helped to reflect on differences in cultural attitudes to death and dying. Some individuals feel more confident talking about bereavement post-workshop, and now give further consideration to patients’ choices in the context of dying.
Conclusions Archaeological materials facilitate discussions around death, dying and bereavement that are relevant to health and social care workers, personally and professionally. Participants welcomed the opportunity to discuss and explore the myriad aspects of death from different times and places.
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