Weaving Relationships

Turning unbearable events and losses into meaningful experiences for end of life relationships

A hospice providing palliative care needs to be evaluated both in the way the diverse staff takes care of the terminally ill patient and his/her family – and in the way each member of the staff needs himself/herself to receive ‘care’ to make sense of somebody else’s pain and death.

‘Weaving Realtionships’ liberates the hospice from the scientific burden of not being able to heal terminal diseases, to a platform where patients, family and clinical staff could build shared representations of individual illnesses by agreeing on symbols that turn unbearable events and losses into meaningful experiences for end-of-life relationships.

By setting a narrative-based-medicine approach in the hospice environment, the aim is to open a mutual dialogue between evidence-based- medicine and the narrative itself, which could lead to a better palliative care, both in terms of pain control and emotional quality of life.

In order to support an alternative hospice journey based on symbolic relationships, the patient entering in the hospice would be provided with 3 nesting dolls to share with his/her caregiver and the chosen staff member. The dolls come with a set of little symbols that the 3 people can choose from and put in their dolls in order to express how they feel about the illness experience they are going through.

The dolls act as a key to open communications that are not easy when coping with people who are dying. There is often silence, things unsaid and unasked questions inside a patient room.

The hospice would extend to outside of the building where there would be messaging stations at particular trees. People sharing a nesting doll bond could go there to leave and receive messages from each other and start a conversation outside of the disease context.

The tree would follow the patient during his/her transition to death in the shape of a blanket that the member of the staff would give to him/her at the moment of terminal sedation.

Thank you very much to all Antea patients, their families and the amazing staff members that collaborated in this thesis.

Advisor: Joachim Halse