Our aim is to offer terminally ill patients at some 200 hospices across Britain the chance to have their life stories recorded on audio for their pleasure and relief and so that their families will still be able to hear their voices and precious memories long after they’ve died.
The recordings will be made at a hospice day care or outpatient setting. Each patient will thereafter be given a USB or CD for them to keep forever. All recordings will be confidential and will be offered to patients free of charge.
The volunteers who will conduct these audio interviews will be journalists who will be recruited, DBS checked and specially trained by this charity. For continuity of care, we will recruit two volunteers per hospice, one “lead” volunteer plus one “standby” volunteer.
This means that we will need to train some 400 volunteer Hospice Biographers in total. For good practical reasons each volunteer will live reasonably close to the hospice we’ve assigned them to. They will be required to conduct their hospice interviews once a month, across ten months each year.
For this charity’s long term legacy we will become subject to independent academic scrutiny and therapeutic evaluation. We will also create a nationwide secure audio storage space so that relatives may gain access to lost audio interviews if they ever need to. We will be collating Britain’s largest audio archive of its kind ever created.
With the help and co-operation of the national representative body Hospice UK and the National Council for Palliative Care we estimate that we will be able to roll out this service across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland within three years.
Benefits to Patients
- All audio interviews will be recorded chronologically, this means their recordings will start at the time of their birth and continue up to current day.
- This chronology can sometimes offer a rare opportunity for patients to make sense of some of their more dramatic prior life-changing decisions, often for the first time.
- After being interviewed patients often say they enjoyed being recorded and that the experience was therapeutic, cathartic and uplifting.
- Some patients say since their terminal diagnosis they’d often thought about writing their autobiographies but seldom felt well enough to actually achieve this. They were therefore very grateful that the job was being done for them via audio and with a professional interviewer who knew when and how to subtly nudge them along when necessary.
- Some patients say the audio experience offered them a rare opportunity to "off load" some of their former regrets and what they sometimes describe as past 'lost opportunities."
- Others say they were pleased for the opportunity to “ show –off “ some of their proudest achievements, successfully overcome in the face of overwhelming obstacles, tragedies and failures.
- Thanks to the audio recordings most bereaved families say how they learned new and insightful information about their loved ones, details and experiences they’d never ever heard before.
- Many bereaved families said the audio recordings had subsequently become a much treasured family heirloom, an important part of the oral history of their family.
Benefits to Hospices
There are some 220 hospices in Britain today, together they care for some 120,000 patients and those close to them, every year.
A proportion of those patients attend a weekly outpatients service called "day care" at their local hospice where they receive a wide range of professional and volunteer-led wellbeing therapies such as massage, discussion groups, acupuncture, lectures, hairdressing, singing classes, quizzes and art therapy but patients are rarely offered the opportunity to have their life stories recorded on audio.
This proposed national charity is designed to fill this important gap so that hospice patients, adults and children, will be routinely offered our nationwide free of charge life story interview service.
Patients will be recorded on audio by regional journalists throughout Britain who will be professionally trained by this charity to serve their local hospices once a month ten months through the year, no matter where they live.
We will also be creating a national and secure audio archive of all our hospice interviews in case any of our bereaved families should lose their USB memory sticks as time rolls by. Some 12,000 hours of interviews will be collated every year and will be the largest audio collation of its kind ever launched in the UK.