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Visual maps and approaches from differing traditions might help planning now.

Systemic thinking and person-centred practices can inform visual approaches to mapping of services for accessible planning for all.

Photo of Chris Lawes
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This idea builds on the post about using accessible visual maps to show who is involved with the person, and in what way. Drawn from person centred practice this places the person at the centre of planning, helps everyone know who is involved - and who is doing what. A 'living' document and shared space is created. What is added are ideas from systemic practice and thinking, of co-creating maps and stories that affirm, and open possibilities to help plan the end-of-life experience.

The previous post in the Inspiration phase was titled: 'A picture is worth a thousand words; how maps of people and services can help people share and communicate'. This  suggested  using a visual map of a one page A4 sheet, drawn from  person-centred planning  and practice - which could  then  become a centre piece of discussion for the person, their families and everyone involved, about who is visiting and how often.  

The aim of this idea is that simple  visual maps or diagrams that could be developed for use by the person and their families at the end-of -life to enable and empower them.  Different maps and diagrams might well be developed at different times and for many purposes, in the end-of-life process.  These maps would not only enable them to see clearly who is involved in their care, also help reassure that they have not missed out on services that might help - and enable them to share their stories and plan more effectively. 

One page maps, or visual diagrams can represent in a simple visual way many issues, e.g. who is involved, and they can help create a shared space to plan together. These enable families, carers, professionals and the person at the centre to see at a glance information and ideas that they wish to show, e.g. the  people and agencies involved.  A number of different designs might possibly show; the frequency of visits, or who is involved and what they do, hopes, dreams and stories of the person and families, and thoughts about going forward. Different traditions have different designs, and utilities.

Maps or visual designs might draw on several traditions which have been adapted and developed for end-of-life to resource this approach. All of these are rich traditions and which it is not possible to describe adequately in a few words, but some key resources are identified at the end of this post.

The first tradition, is that of person centred practice. Person centred planning and practice, is a way  of pulling together everyone involved in the care - together with the person at the centre to identify what is important to, and for, them.  Person centred practices have co-developed resources, templates, organisational design thinking and training materials, which are designed to be accessible for children and adults with Intellectual Disabilities or with Mental Health conditions.  Examples and videos are shown on the web sites detailed in the resource section.

The second tradition is the systemic and narrative approach ,which has used and elaborated, by Glenda Fredman and others who work with older adults, and children and families at the end-of-life (please see resources at the end of this post).  Systemic thinking and practice looks, in part, at the nature of the conversations and multiple stories that affirm and enable the person and families to shape the way the end-of-life is imagined, as well as the way of being with people. 

A third was posted as a conversation in the inspiration phase, is an approach sometimes called a multi-actor diagram, this can look at the dynamics and interactions between professional and services.

All of these traditions can be resources, and provide inspiration.

Glenda Fredman makes the point that the map is not the territory.  Differing traditions  may be helpful at different times during the end-of-life planning.  They all have strengths as well as descriptions of training, resources and examples of visual maps of services. All of these could contribute to improving the end-of-life experience and planning now, and all of them have implication for the design of services.


link to Inspiration post:

Fredman, G. (1997). DEATH TALK -Conversations with Children and Families. London. Karnac Books.  

Fredman, G.,  Rapaport, P. (2010)  How do we begin? Working with older people and their significant systems. In: G. Fredman, E. Anderson & J. Stott,  (Eds) (2010). BEING WITH OLDER PEOPLE - A Systemic Approach. London. Karnac Books   Video of approach.  Page also has downloadable resources.  Visual mapping of co-created stories US based site Resources about person centred practices including end-of-life  UK based site with resources and templates for person centred practices including for end-of-life

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I'm going to create some maps like this with my father at the centre. I would reflect and think through with others in my community about the usefulness of these approaches.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

To think about these ideas, make suggestions, share ideas and experiences. If visual mapping approaches are being used by people, or this approach is already being used (or another one which meets the same purpose) then it would be great to hear about these, and share this knowledge somehow.

Tell us about your work experience:

I have worked in healthcare as a Clinical Psychologist.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Chris.  Great idea.  Thanks for sharing!
One thing I have experienced when a friend was dying was that a food train was developed.  It was a calendar on which friends signed up for dates to prepare meals for the family.  There was also a calendar of dates when one could come over to help with any chores that were necessary.  Can this type of calendar be incorporated into the mapping?

Might this mapping be used to map out where one is with end of life planning in general?  Financial issues?  Advance directives?  Burial issues and associated financial issues?  etc.?  I wonder if a template, or a guide approach might be incorporated into an EHR?

It would be great if you could link the post from the Inspiration Phase that you mention into the text so that it is easy to find.  Also - are there any particular videos from the references that you recommend?  I would love to learn more!

 I think for those who have children in the home mapping related to goals around their care, school issues, talking to school directors etc. might be important.

Looking forward to seeing your maps!  Good luck developing the Idea!

Photo of Chris Lawes

Hi Bettina, thank you for the comments, really helpful.  I have included a link to my Inspiration post in the resources at the end of this post...hopefully that will work. Let me know if not, and I will try to see if I can modify it...

I think that absolutely you could include this type of calendar that you talk about in visual mapping - and yes you could use visual mapping and diagrams in many ways - I think that imagination and creativity really count here. Collaboration across the openideo community would be really helpful for this.  I was talking with a friend and they suggested different shades of colours to look at emotions and importance...

With regard to your question about videos that I would suggest -  you follow the link to Helen Sanderson associates - they have videos illustrating each of the steps of the process and these show the use of planning live using visual materials.  They address directly the point you raise about working with children in the home mapping goals - moving work.  I used these approaches when I worked with children and families and they are really helpful, but when I worked with children with life limiting conditions then the systemic approaches were really important to underpin and think through how these might be translated into visual metaphors.  For the video of this Glenda Fredmans talk is really helpful, but the two books are really useful.  I think that systemic approaches would also be important to help co-create visual diagrams for end of life planning generally.  I used diagrams a  in my work, and  I think that I am very much in the learning stage.

Hope this helps.  Thank you. 

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thanks for the info Chris!  I hope to take some time going forward to learn more from your linked resources/videos.

I like the idea of color coding  when looking at emotions as well.

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