A project part-funded by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Creative Minds charity has enabled people with life-limiting conditions to reflect on their lives and explore their feelings through creative writing and poetry.
Patients at Barnsley Hospice were invited to take part in the ‘My Words’ project, which saw them work with psychotherapist Diane Hinchliffe to create poetry inspired by various objects used to prompt discussions. In small groups the patients discuss the objects and their combined conversations are then formed into short ‘poems’ by Diane.
Diane also worked one to one with people staying in the inpatient unit, allowing for silence and space for them to share their feelings about life, living, death and dying, which were captured for them to keep and share with family and friends.
The patients’ poetry has now been compiled into a book on sale at the eight hospice shops across Barnsley and from the hospice reception for £5, with proceeds going towards continuing the project.
‘My Words’ was funded by Creative Minds, Barnsley Hospice, Hear My Voice, Barnsley Museums & Heritage Trust and Shawlands Trust, with funding from the Barnsley End of Life Care Education Monies also being used to train staff to deliver sessions in the future.
Macmillan advanced palliative care practitioner Katie Yockney said: “Having their poetry printed in a book is a poignant legacy for these patients. It’s a different way of communicating and gave many people the confidence to open up about sensitive topics to their families and Hospice staff.
“Some people were nervous at first but due to Diane’s background as a psychotherapist she was able to support them. This project is particularly special to us at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust as Diane’s son, Dominic, worked for our Trust before he passed away suddenly from a short illness in September 2018. She loves to be known to everyone as ‘Dom’s mum’.
“It’s fantastic that our staff now have the skills to facilitate their own sessions. Having this training will enable our staff to continue to support these patients as we help many of them through our work in the community.
“The project aims to give people with a life-limiting illness a voice and it’s amazing how well it’s been received. As the sessions are voluntary people don’t feel forced into taking part and instead embrace getting together to have a chat with people who they would now consider friends. The end product is truly remarkable.”