The use of narrative methods has a long history in palliative care, pioneered by Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement. Patient stories can be used to make sense of experiences of illness and care, to create and express meaning, to mediate and reconstruct identifications, and
to encapsulate the complex relationships between the individual and their wider social and material contexts. Modern palliative care encourages user empowerment and involvement in end of life care strategies, with patient narratives becoming a powerful lobbying tool, and ‘personalised care’ emerging
as a significant agenda.
This multidisciplinary book provides a vibrant examination of work with narrative and stories in contemporary health and social care, with focus on the care of people who are ill and dying. It animates the academic literature with provocative ‘real-world’ examples from international contributors,
including palliative care service users and those working in the social and human sciences, medicine, theology, and the creative arts. It addresses and clarifies core issues: What is a narrative? What is a story? What are some of the main methods and models that can be used and for what purposes?
What practical and ethical dilemmas can the methods entail in work with illness, death and dying? How does a researcher or clinician harness and maximise the meanings and/or experience that can be manifest in patient and carer stories? As well as highlighting the power of stories to create new
possibilities, the book also acknowledges the problems inherent in narrative work, and the importance of the ethics surrounding it.
As the hospice and palliative care movement evolves to meet the challenges of 21st century health care and end of life care, this fascinating book highlights how narratives and stories can be worked with in ways that are rigorous, productive, ethical, and caring.
About the Authors:
Yasmin Gunaratnam is a lecturer in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths College (University of London) and has written in the field of race equality and health and social care. She is a published poet and is interested in the relationships between art and research. Yasmin has a particular
interest in qualitative research methods and is author of ‘Researching ‘race’ and ethnicity: methods, knowledge and power’ (Sage, 2003). David Oliviere is a trained social worker and couple counsellor and works as Director of Education and Training, St Christopher’s Hospice. David has written widely
in palliative care, including edited books with Pam Firth and Gill Luff, “Loss, Change and Bereavement in Palliative Care”, and with Barbara Monroe, “Patient Participation in Palliative Care: a voice for the voiceless”; “Death, Dying and Social Differences”; and “Resilience and Palliative Care.
Achievement in Adversity”, Oxford University Press. David facilitates a number of user involvement activities at St Christopher’s and his special interests include working with children and families, culture and ethnicity in palliative care and staff support.