Palliative Care workshops

Looking forward

At Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre in Mater Dei Hospital we are planning a new series of workshops for patients in the palliative care unit. In order to understand what clients take away with them from the workshops, we carried out a feedback session with the clients from SIX sensory workshops. We saw the film produced by Tim Lewis for Deep Shelter Project, as this reminded them of the workshop experience and after let the process of remembering take its natural course.

We talked of the different sessions and what they liked about their favourite ones. One thing came out that surprised and in a way delighted Marika, Benna and I. The patients came to the workshops not only because they enjoyed what was being done during the time spent together but also because they felt safe and at home with us. They felt that our presence, together, pulled them closer and supported them. That is why they came back. Our role within hospital is thus to provide a fertile ground for meaning-making through what we say, what we do and who we are. This shows that we have a huge responsibility towards patients to be connected and committed to our own growth as mature individuals, to process our own personal experiences and come to terms with them, to support each other and be there for each other.

All the research we are doing points in this direction. This means that if we are feeling down ourselves, we need to step back and get back on track. We have an obligation to look after staff working within such an environment so that they too do not get demotivated and emotionally exhausted, losing an essential ingredient within Oncology - HOPE. This is the hope they will need to pass on to their patients who need to ‘have faith’ in the people taking care of them. Hope becomes central to the human experience of living and dying and integrally entwined with spiritual and psychological well-being (Elliott & Oliver, 2007, 2009).

Our next step will now soon be taken. We are preparing for the workshops ‘A Time to be in Touch’ which will be held weekly for 6 weeks. There will be differences in the way we approach these sessions. Rather then building them consequentially to one another as a series, we will build them as individual or ‘stand-alone’ sessions, allowing each session to inform the next because of the nature of palliative care. The sessions need to be expansive and rather unstructured so they can fit in to the needs of the patients rather then the other way round. The staff are looking forward to these interventions and as an organising group we hope that they too will spare some time to come and join us.