An innovative project using an evidence based intervention called ;’dignity therapy; is offering people with a life limiting illness nearing the end of their lives the opportunity to tell their life story as a legacy document for their family.
People diagnosed with a life limiting illness such a Motor Neurone Disease (MND) are offered the opportunity to record their story which is transcribed, edited and re-read to the patient for final amendments.
Copies are then produced for the patient to gift to family or friends at a time that suits them.
Currently the intervention is being delivered by Motor Neurone Disease nurse specialists in Glasgow, mentored and supported by a clinical professor of nursing, Professor Bridget Johnston, who has expertise in palliative and end of life care and dignity therapy.
The Dignity Therapy project is at the heart of patient centred care and looks at the patient as an individual as they near the end of their life and allows them to talk about what matters to them. It offers them time and space to tell important parts of their life story which their loved ones can cherish when they have died or their illness has progressed.
Margaret McGuire, Nursing Director, NHSGGC, said: “Our patients are at the centre of everything we do and this project is giving a voice to patients who are nearing the end of their lives.
“It offers them the opportunity to put in words the life they have lived and what has been important to them throughout their lifetime.
“It is also a legacy for their families to cherish when their loved one has died and they have that memory of the life their family member or friend had lived.
“The MND nurses who are delivering this project have expertise in dealing with patients who are coming to the end of their life and being able to put on paper the patient’s words means a lot to both the patient and their family.”
Grace (not her real name) was able to feedback her experience of this new project before she died. Speaking to one of the MND Nurses she said this project made her feel that she ‘had lived a life worth living and brought back many memories to me’. She said it she would recommend it to other people who were in the same situation as her.
After Grace’s death her daughter told the MND nurse who provided support to her mum that it was important for her mum to be able to write down what was important to her and celebrate her life and achievements.
She added: “Mum distributed Dignity therapy to the family when she was living.
“Dignity therapy was read with mum and many tears and laughter were shared.
“Having the Dignity therapy has made her words tangible.
“When she died, a copy was given to the priest and used at the funeral service. This took pressure off the family at our time of grief.
“What was important to mum was written down through the Dignity therapy project.”
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]
Pic: MND patient Joan Martin (left) with MND Nurse Laura Cunningham. Joan has had MND for 30 years & decided to go ahead with dignity therapy to leave a lasting legacy of her life. (Image courtesy of Sunday Post)