During April and May 2016 I embarked on a six week research trip around the USA and Canada in order to meet people involved in current legacy projects in hospitals, hospices and homes with a view to creating projects for people nearing end of life in the UK. Legacy and life review projects can take on many different forms including audio, written and visual in both digital and analogue mediums. They encourage people to convey what they hope to be remembered for, as well as helping them to consider their life experiences. Legacy projects have been shown to help people come to terms with dying, and aid bereavement for loved ones.
This trip was possible through funding from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship, which allows people to travel abroad in order bring back innovative ideas for the benefit of people across the UK.
Below are a selection of articles written during my trip. My formal report detailing all findings and recommendations can be read here: http://www.wcmt.org.uk/fellows/reports/creating-legacy-projects-patients-hospital-hospice-and-home
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ARTICLES FROM THE LEGACY PROJECT
How can we start conversations about death and dying, and how do we begin to redesign end of life care? I travelled to San Francisco and met people involved in projects to encourage discussion around the one certainty that connects us all.
How can we make sense of narrative within medicine? I visit StoryCorps Legacy Initiative headquarters in Brooklyn, and discover how Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco are embracing StoryCorps as well as weaving narrative into everyday practice.
The Morbid Anatomy Museum, in Brooklyn, New York, is a unique space which describes itself as “a non-profit institution dedicated to the celebration and exhibition of artifacts, histories and ideas which fall between the cracks of high and low culture, death and beauty, and disciplinary divides.” I visited to find out more.
Claudia Biçen is a self taught artist who is fascinated by the human condition. Her series of drawings and interviews of people close to the end of life is the result of a two year exploration into a question Claudia has been transfixed by since being a small child: how should we live? PRN interviewed Claudia about her beautiful project 'Thoughts in Passing' as part of The Legacy Project: an exploration into creating legacies at end of life.
StoryCorps Legacy Initiative is part of the hugely successful StoryCorps project which records conversations and interviews between everyday people living in America. Lauren Brooks, a third year internal medicine resident, brought StoryCorps Legacy Initiative to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre in Baltimore, MD, and recorded the stories of people living with serious illnesses. PRN met Lauren to find out more about the project.
Some thoughts on the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organisation 2016 conference, and an inspirational exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.