Storytelling improves patient wellbeing at The Peace Hospice

Categories: Care.

‘Life Stories’ claims to rebuild self esteem through the sharing and recording of biographical stories and initial research – although small –  would suggest that the scheme does exactly that.

The hospice has recently embarked on “an experimental storytelling activity” where patients are simply offered the opportunity to tell their stories in an informal setting.

In collaboration with local storyteller, Miranda Quinney, who leads the sessions, patients are encouraged to talk about life events and recall distant memories.

Miranda said:The aim of Life Stories is to provide a space for reflection and story telling for patients who are low in mood or anxious. The group is made of people referred to the Peace Hospice day care services by professional practitioners.”

The weekly 1.5 hour sessions are facilitated by Miranda and supported by senior social worker, Doreen Pattenson.

Each session is structured using common life experiences and a mix of individual and pair work. All participants are invited to explore the particular theme for the week and and its meaning for them, before breaking into pairs and sharing a related life story.

Finally, the stories are shared out loud with the group, giving the facilitator a chance to record them all.

According to the hospice, the reaction of the patients and their families to the storytelling experience has been very positive, reporting  enhanced feelings of wellbeing, happiness and a generally improved quality of life.

In response, the Peace Hospice are now piloting an enhanced version of ‘Life Stories’, offering a 5–6 week course of story sharing sessions to day patients and patients in the community.

Senior social worker, Doreen Pattenson said: “The feedback to date has been fantastic – patients visibly brighten and do not want to leave the session. A family member reported that her mother is now talking again and painting again.” 

Other reported comments from patients have included:

“ Memories come back from deep in your memory, one just kicks another one off.”

“Once I started writing the stories down it became much easier and they started to flow. My daughter read the stories and they were a great way for us to review the past, some of the things she remembered weren’t right at all – we were able to sort a few misunderstandings out”

“Me and my sisters are recording our family stories – we remember the same events, but in such different ways”

Both Miranda and Doreen were presenting the findings of the storytelling scheme to delegates of the 2013 Help the Hospices conference, as part of the poster exhibition. The pair spoke to ehospice to explain how the storytelling programme works:



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