Following my experience as visual scribe at Calvary Hospital’s Death Café in 2015, one of the organisers Belinda Clarke approached me about being involved in an innovative pilot program she had devised in partnership with Calvary Hospital & two Hobart high schools.A group of Yr 12 girls who were considering a career in nursing, were to attend six weekly sessions at Calvary’s palliative care unit, in which they would learn about various aspects of palliative care and begin to have more open conversations about death, dying, and ultimately, life.
Each week there were presentations by various health care professionals in the field, discussing topics such as medical & holistic supports for the dying, ethics, grief, care in the wider community. The students also spent time with a patient at the unit who was undergoing treatment, and who shared her views on life and facing death. The students kept creative journals throughout the course and used these to produce a creative response to their experience, in the form of visual art or writing. Each session was filmed & edited by HypeTV into a DVD overview of the pilot program to present to other schools.
Once again, my role was to attend some of these sessions as a live “visual scribe”, listening to the presenters and distilling the information into simple expressive drawings for student reflection. As the course had never been tried before, Belinda had no expectation of outcome, and we were all very much in the unknown with the process – a place I always feel is creatively exciting!
It was fantastic to be part of this innovative learning process, to support this important work and to again consider my own mortality more deeply. It was particularly powerful for the students, some of whom were directly dealing with death in their own families, and they embraced the challenge with great maturity and insight.
You can read and view the students’ creative responses, as well as see video diaries of the sessions, at Belinda’s blog here: http://exploringdeathhobart.blogspot.com.au/
Here is the completed 13-minute documentary of the project, produced by Hype TV: