Life Story Sharing: A Therapeuitic Intervention in Palliative Care

Miranda Quinney, Alison Ward, Jane Youell

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter

Abstract

This chapter presents a personal reflection by Sharing Stories for Welbeing (SS4WB) workshop facilitator and programme founder Miranda Quinney with observational input from Alison Ward and Jane Youell of the University of Northampton following the University’s evaluation of the programme in May 2015. SS4WB provides facilitated storytelling sessions in palliative care. Workshops foster life-story discussions which participants share with the group, that are delivered in a non-linear style and are based on themed topics. Groups are supported by hospice staff, who provide both pastoral and clinical care. Informal observational feedback suggested that the potential benefits for participants were improved self-esteem, feelings of being valued and of being listened to at a time of personal distress. The running of new SS4WB sessions at Watford’s Peace Hospice Care gave the opportunity to conduct a formal evaluation and to understand the potential value of participation. The evaluation was conducted over five weekly sessions between May and June 2015.

Four broad evaluation themes emerged: ‘pleasure’; ‘what makes you, you’; ‘more than just a patient’; and ‘benefits beyond the group’.1 Participants reported enjoyment and felt a sense of autonomy and control in deciding on the stories shared.2 Sessions provided an opportunity for social engagement, giving a sense of togetherness and were a means to explore the participants’ sense of self and feelings of being valued as a person, not a patient. The telling of biographical reminiscences was reported to bring positive reminders of changing times and lived experiences. Workshop engagement also led some participants to experience improved confidence and reduced social isolation, as evidenced through staff and family views and participation in new activities. SS4WB enables people in palliative care to share their life-stories in a supportive and safe environment. Participation can have positive outcomes fostering choice in the stories shared which then engenders a sense of autonomy and control, reminiscences can also bring feelings of value and self-esteem.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVoices of Illness: Negotiating Meaning and Identity
PublisherBrill/ Rodopi
Chapter3
Pages48-70
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9789004390782
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Palliative care
  • storytelling
  • wellbeing

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