Background Poetry is one way in which patients and palliative care professionals may seek meaning from and make sense of serious illness and loss towards the end of life (Davies, 2018). Reading and writing poetry can help those who care for dying patients to become more reflective, creative and compassionate practitioners (Coulehan & Clary, 2005).
Aim To enable patients, carers, bereaved loved ones, staff and volunteers to discover the healing and transformative power of words and to tap into their own creativity.
Method We are working with a local charitable trust that seeks to reimagine the life and work of a well-known poet, whose aim was to help people, think, see and feel. Everyone associated with our organisation has the opportunity to attend a poetry workshop, where a collaborative poem is produced on the theme of place. Nurses are encouraged to incorporate poetry into reflective practice and have written poems on dementia at end of life and on spirituality in nursing. During a health and well-being workshop we produced collaborative poems on resilience. As an organisation we put together a poem for Dying Matters Week.
Results Our poems are displayed on posters, on social media and on our website and have had an impact both near and far.
‘This truly is an amazing poem and hits a powerful mark. Thank you.’
‘My wife lost her father two years ago. What you wish for in the poem is what she wished for her father but it wasn’t to be. We now realise we should prepare as your poem says and that helps us to wake up to the preciousness of what we have now.’
Conclusion This is an ongoing project, and feedback has been positive and is encouraging people to talk about difficult subjects in a way that is creative and non-threatening.
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