How can we live the remaining days fully at the end of life?
How might we allow patients in palliative care unit to live more fully to help alleviate pain from the loved ones and caregivers while also helping the dying reflect and improve mood and emotional wellbeing?
Palliative care nurses: By help creating mementos during the last days(months/years) of patients’ lives (either through events, making a physical object, or digital product, etc.) with their loved ones and care givers would allow the patients to enjoy the remaining days and also allow those who live on to carry and remember the dead.
Why: These special moments are what make life what it is! We can help caregivers and patients capture these special moments and feel connected to others facing the same difficulties.
IDEA: “Tender moment -memento” project
Through this project, we hope to rejuvenate caregivers by having them actively participate in light and lively activities that will be captured in photo or video creating a memento of a special moment that will provide remembrance of tender moments with patients and will allow patients’ memory to live on beyond death.
How: This project will carry out programming events in palliative care units that allow patients to share moments of lightness and life with loved ones and caregivers. A volunteer film student or photographer will capture these special moments and share these images with loved ones if they would like.
Question we asked ourselves:
What if life ends not when our heart stops and our blood stop flowing through our body, but by when we stop making memories?
Then can our lives continue long after we are buried… because we can still stay alive with memories that others have of us?
How might we we create those memories and capture them?
With this tender memento project, nurses play a vital role of creating(curating) the memories that last even after the patients leave the earth.
The tender mementoes can be shared with the community (i.e.caregivers, families, others who were involved in the caring of the dead) during bi-annual memorial service at the hospital.
How can we get community partners to get involved?
We can reach out to “volunteermatch.org” to get volunteers.
How volunteermatch.org works:
You can sign up for the volunteer opportunity that can utilize your skill. For example, if you are a photographer who want to share your skill during the 5K cancer run, you sign up for that charity event and submit a few of your photos and if your skill-set matches the needs, you get selected to be the part of photo-volunteer group for the event.
We also may want to create a website to share more information about this project to raise awareness about the end of life experience - that this doesn’t have to be frightening.
Feedback from Mt.Sinai Palliative Care Unit:
Love the idea of seeing family members interact with patients. Often times they are so busy taking the video of photos of their loved ones - they are usually behind the camera and not a part of it. This allows them to keep the memory as whole.
It also gives a way to interact with patients and families in a more social setting.
It is a way for patients to give back to their caretakers and at the same time have caregivers form individual memories of patients outside of their job description.
It may be too emotional for some caregivers to see video of those who died (some have even hard time attending memorial service for the same reason). May be better suited to family and other caregivers (need a way to opt out). But see a great benefit for pediatric patients.
How can we implement this:
Some parts of this idea are already in place. Art therapy is used and memorialized. At Mt.Sinai, there are supposed to be structured remembrance ceremonies once a week, once a month and every 6 months for those who have passed. Families do return for remembrance ceremonies. This can feed into those existing rituals nicely.
Follow Up: Connect with palliative care patients and families to see how they feel about this idea.
Next step: Make a small flyer with a proposition and share it with palliative care patients and families to see if they are interested. We will find one or two volunteers who could help if we were to find one or two patients interested to try.
- Will do another iteration of the prototype next Thursday (7/21/2016) and go back to Mt.Sinai Palliative care unit the following week.
- Also reached out to another hospital. If accepted, will present the prototype and get feedback.