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StoryCorps Legacy - A Model for Integrating StoryCorps Interviews within Hospice and Palliative Care

People ask questions and have meaningful conversations during moments of transition, & we preserve them for future generations.

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StoryCorps is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. 

Since 2003, nearly 80,000 people have shared life stories with family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share and, with permission, is preserved at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts at and on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps Legacy provides the StoryCorps interview experience to people of all ages with serious illness, as well as their families and caregivers. Recording conversations is the perfect way to celebrate and share our lives with future generations. StoryCorps has given many participants the opportunity to form powerful new connections and engage in meaningful conversations.

StoryCorps Legacy partners with hospice and palliative care providers, hospitals, and disease-specific centers, and we train our partners to conduct and record interviews wherever people feel most comfortable using StoryCorps equipment and methods.

StoryCorps provides the expertise and support needed to create a reminiscence program that will enhance existing services and make StoryCorps Legacy an enduring part of an institution.

Our partners say that StoryCorps Legacy helps them:

• Strengthen connections between patients, family, staff, and volunteers

• Demonstrate patient and family-centered care

• Attract and retain a diverse volunteer pool

• Celebrate and share stories of their community

• Raise visibility by partnering with a national nonprofit organization

Participants choose the questions, topics, and nature of their own interviews; Legacy does not require Participants to discuss their medical condition. The StoryCorps method is not a clinical therapeutic intervention or a formal life review, but the model can and should be used to begin or supplement programs that support reminiscence and storytelling.

Dr. Daniel Spurgeon, Faculty at The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice, was an early champion of StoryCorps Legacy and has provided a great deal of insight to Legacy staff on how to adapt the StoryCorps model for health care organizations, including outpatient and residential care programs, hospices, palliative care departments, and resource centers for people with HIV/AIDS and cancer. In giving guidance to his team as they incorporated the StoryCorps method into their programs, Dr. Spurgeon advised: “If you allow the StoryCorps model to unfold, then the therapeutic value will follow naturally, like a welcomed side-effect.”

There is a wide body of clinical research, knowledge, and literature, which suggests that storytelling and reminiscence provide enormous benefits to all people, particularly those with serious illness. Over the years, StoryCorps has heard many interview Participants say they have experienced change, strengthened human connections, and felt their lives were validated as a result of their StoryCorps interview. StoryCorps Legacy allows people with serious illness to have this powerful experience. In a recent evaluation of our program, one pediatric participant explained, “The good thing about telling my story was that it showed that I am not just a kid with a disease. I have friends and ambitions. The story got to be about me as a person and human being.”

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

When I worked as a chaplain and bereavement coordinator in hospice, I heard all the time from people who told me they had saved voicemail messages and old videos, as well as people who were asking, "Why didn't I ask my loved one these questions that I had?" I joined StoryCorps because I thought it was filling a need, and I still think that it is. Recording conversations can be very powerful.

Tell us about your work experience:

I initially was a writer w/a background in journalism and a strong interest in spirituality. I have MFA program in Creative Writing, but went on to be a hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jess Paik

Hello Eddie Gonzalez !  Please give me feedback on this wire framing:
for Update 7/01/2016- Once upon a Time 

Thank you!

Photo of Eddie Gonzalez

Hi Jess,
I think it's looking great.  Navigation feels easy and intuitive, the graphics help illustrate the concept, and I'm happy to help you cull links that would be helpful to site visitors. Excited to see this progressing! Thanks for keeping me involved!

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