Friday, February 1, 2008

Hospice and Nursing Home Story: Patient's Life Review (Video 4:25 mins.)

Something I have enjoyed doing as a writer and hospice volunteer is recording patients’ life reviews. A life review is a legacy that is put in written, audio, or video form for family and friends to treasure after the patient has died. I could not do this with patients who had dementia or those who were too ill physically. Patients who were able to participate in this process enjoyed creating this record that added permanence to their history.

Jackie (pseudonym), a talkative patient with a sharp mind, was glad she could still remember what had happened in her life and eager to tell me her story. During several visits, she answered a series of questions that I recorded on tape and transcribed later. Her story started with descriptions of her parents, their values, and their impact on her life. Later, she included memories of her siblings and incidents that happened to her over eighty years ago.

Speaking with a knowing that only comes with age, she told me about happy times that drenched her with joy, and heartbreaking struggles that drowned her in misery. When she spoke about being hospitalized years ago due to physical abuse by a former husband, I reminded her that others would read the information in her booklet. She responded that her husband’s maltreatment of her was common knowledge. Her family and friends had advised her often to divorce him. “I’m proud now that I finally left with my children and started a better life,” she added smiling. The most important life message she wanted to leave was the truth of her experience.

This video, titled "Hello in There," reminds us that there’s a special story inside each person. Be sure to wait for words accompanying the music.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog


  1. Mary ZuccaroOctober 05, 2008

    Ms. Parker, I am a hospice nurse practitioner deeply concerned about quality of life for people living in nursing facilities, especially at end of life.
    I would like to correspond directly with you about your work and other nursing facility and hospice nurses who share this concern at Thank you.

  2. I just found your blog and it's very interesting to me. I have just completed training to become a writer for hospice patients, and I'm really looking forward to it. It just seems so valuable to the patient and the family!

  3. I wish you the best in this new endeavor that I think you will find very rewarding.