Saturday afternoon, 2.30pm – what a slot! the end of the conference and competing with the final key note presentation for an audience – I was pretty sure the storytelling at end of life session would have a fairly small audience. Still, I reasoned, those there would be really interested in the subject matter so we would have the opportunity for a lively debate amongst what promised to be an excellent group of presenters.
Well, I was completely wrong as to turn out – the session was well attended and our audience fully engaged. I was delighted to hear about the range of approaches to this work. The group approach we take at Sharing Stories for Wellbeing contrasted beautifully with the oral history led programme Pass it On. Speakers and audience had the opportunity to consider practical and ethical questions when working with patients at end of life. A healthy debate followed and practitioners from a range of backgrounds – academic, social work, therapists and clinicians all recognized storytelling as a powerful way to communicate with the person rather than the patient.
I was touched by the generosity of Jemma Newkirk and Lesley Goodburn in sharing their personal stories. They reminded me yet again of how precious the stories are that we each hold and the privilege it is as a practitioner and trainer to have biographical stories shared with me.
The conference itself was a great way to showcase the range of projects taking place. By the end of Day One, I found myself rather wishing that I lived in Wales where there would appear to be a real enthusiasm for experimenting with storytelling led approaches into health and wellbeing! By the end of Day Three, I felt equipped to continue to drive my own area of practice forward towards making life story sharing available more widely.