International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleHow are you feeling? A community poetry project for stroke survivors in Sussex
Type of ArticleOriginal practice development and research
Author/sAlec Grant, Kate Tym, Debbie Hatfield, Kaya Aranda
ReferenceVolume 2, Issue 2, Article 5
Date of PublicationNovember 2012
KeywordsArts in healthcare, community engagement, curriculum development, experts by experience, health humanities, poetry, stroke

This community poetry project was theoretically underpinned by narrative inquiry, specifically the transformational power of narrative as poetry. It aimed to focus on the thoughts and behaviours evoked by having and recovering from a stroke, in order to shape positive healing, adjustment and supportive community among stroke survivors, their relatives and carers. After initial planning in 2010, a project team consisting of a St. Leonards-based performance poet and three academic staff from the University of Brighton were allowed access to several stroke clubs in Sussex in 2011. Stories of stroke experiences, previous lives and subsequent adaptation to changed circumstances were gathered from stroke survivors and their relatives, and from volunteer staff. These stories formed the basis for a collection of poems that was subsequently taken back to the stroke clubs and their contributing stroke survivors through performances. Participants and stakeholders in the project expressed that as a result of the overall experience, they developed a greater insight into the emotional language of the stroke experience and new ways of understanding it. This, together with consistently positive, wider, national and international dissemination and dialogues with individuals and groups in different locations in the United Kingdom, demonstrated the success of the project.  In terms of relevance to practice, the poetry collection is also being used in curriculum development and staff induction for nursing and other healthcare staff involved in stroke care, and in training and local strategy development at the University of Brighton. It is hoped that the project will also inform future, more formalised hospital-based narrative inquiry research.

Implications for practice

  • Poetry based on patients’ stories of their illness experiences can help healthcare staff and other stakeholders learn new ways of understanding such experiences
  • This can contribute to the development of humanities-based curricula to balance biomedical and related curricula
  • Being involved in the overall process of turning experiences expressed in prose into poetic form can be transformational for patients, carers, care, volunteer and professional staff
This paper includes a commentary by Dawn Freshwater and a response by Alec Grant.
To read the full article, click on the link below.

This article by Alec Grant, Kate Tym, Debbie Hatfield, Kaya Aranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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