We are Verissima Productions, and we hope that this blog will connect you to the people, stories, and research studies that will convince you to throw out a life preserver and capture the stories of your relatives, friends, and communities.
Our first offering illustrates the power of recounting personal histories for both the narrator and the listener. “Helping Dying Patients”, an article passed on to me by Canadian colleague Jennifer Campbell at the Association of Personal Historians describes the invaluable help hospice patients receive fron telling their stories to others.
Helping Dying Patients Offers Canadians Life Lessons
Canadian hospice care workers say their daily experience caring for dying patients has changed their personal lives — but in a positive way, according to a new study that looks at how people are shaped by exposure to death.
After shadowing doctors, nurses, assistants, spiritual care workers and psychologists in palliative care centres in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, researchers found health professionals reported a better understanding of the meaning of life, an increased awareness of spirituality and an acknowledgment of their own mortality.
Lead researcher Shane Sinclair, of Calgary’s Tom Baker Cancer Centre, said many of respondents in his study admitted to rearranging priorities in their lives after learning from their dying patients that they wished they had spent more time with family or focused on enjoying life instead of working.
“No patients had ever said that if they could do one thing over, they would work harder. They always said that what they’re most proud of is their memories with family and friends,” Mr. Sinclair explained.
“These thoughts helped health-care professionals realign themselves to live as meaningful a life as possible. Now they have this gift of time, unlike their patients who were looking back,” he said.
Some workers heeded the advice they received by taking vacations, and promising themselves they wouldn’t let money or their career paths interrupt family time. Making health-conscious choices was also “in the mix” as some workers watched their patients die of lung cancer or other painful illnesses.
“In incorporating these decisions, they were able to live more truly out of their own sense of meaning, value and purpose rather than being directed by an outside authority,” Mr. Sinclair said.
Patty Power, who was interviewed in the study, has been a nurse caring for terminally ill patients for about 30 years.
She said examining the minute details when looking after her patients made her a better mother, spouse and friend.
“I used to think I know everything and it’s important in palliative care to minimize and relieve any painful symptoms, but it’s important to just sit back and listen first,” she said.
She watches families patiently look after their sick relatives every day, which has also taught her “another level of devotion and sacrifice.”