Background Between January and April 2018, a television production company began filming a 13-week documentary exploring hospice care which aired from May 2018.
Aims During filming – explore the impact of film crew on patient/family experiences. During broadcast – support participants featured in the documentary, ensuring the safety and follow-up of patients and bereaved families.
Methods Patients, carers, staff and volunteers from a selected hospice were approached about filming and offered an opportunity to tell their story. In addition, disclaimers were placed around the hospice with full explanation of the process. Contact details of all featured in the documentary were collected throughout the filming process. Our Communications Team had some editorial control reviewing each draft episode, creating a working plan of patients and families featured, enabling individuals to be contacted prior to broadcast of their particular episode. Bereaved families were invited in for a private screening of their episode five days prior to broadcast.
Results Film crews were sensitive when approaching patients and did so with full consent. All patients and families who consented were keen to tell their story and play a part in the documentary. However, occasionally there was a sense that the presence of cameras changed the nature of the interaction with patients and their relatives. Occasionally, this meant scenarios were ‘staged’ with some conversations needing to be repeated. For patients filmed during the documentary who subsequently died, families were grateful for forewarning of the broadcast. Most families declined the offer of private screening, although many stated they would record the episode to watch later. Private screenings enabled staff to pick up bereavement risks resulting in onward referral to counselling services.
Conclusion Filming in the hospice environment needs to be handled extremely carefully and sensitively with great consideration and support given to families whose loved ones subsequently die.