Sue Ryder's virtual Writing for Wellbeing sessions let patients create and connect across the UK

Two Sue Ryder hospices have joined together to deliver exciting new virtual 'Writing for Wellbeing' sessions for patients, where they express themselves through the written word and connect with people no matter where in the country they are.

A Sue Ryder Nurse on a laptop screen during a virtual day service session

Getting creative and collaborating

Patients from Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Gloucestershire and Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough have come together virtually to enjoy ‘Writing for Wellbeing’ sessions, delivered by Hospice Volunteer and Befriending Coordinator, Patricia Fleming, who is also a qualified Writing for Wellbeing practitioner.

The sessions offer patients a chance to get creative and collaborate on short pieces of writing, as well as to explore and express the emotions that inspire their pieces. 

And patients are full of praise for the positive impact of the sessions on their wellbeing.

Sue, who lives in Gloucestershire and has Parkinson’s, shared, “Writing is one of my passions, and I really enjoy the sessions. We explore poetry, old and new, and look back on our own lives and explore what makes us ‘us’ through writing.

“After the session I feel as if I have been somewhere. It’s hard to explain, but it takes me to places I had previously forgotten, by looking back at my life and the lives of others.”

“Simple words put together in a way that inspires and evokes beautiful thoughts and memories”

Amanda from Market Deeping in Lincolnshire has functional neurological disorder caused by encephalitis, and is getting a lot from the ‘Writing for Wellbeing’ sessions. She said, “I have loved getting together with others to listen to people's writing. Nothing too deep or difficult to understand - just simple words put together in a way that inspires and evokes such beautiful thoughts and memories. 

“As we discuss this as a group, we are inspired and motivated to talk about and jot down our own thoughts or distant reflections, often with a warmth and tenderness long forgotten.

“We share a deep level of affection and empathy with others in the group, as when they reminisce about family tales of a distant past we share their enjoyment, pleasure and sometimes tears.

“Through this wonderful process we unearth the significance of people or places that have contributed to making us who we are today.

“If this is something positive we can look back with warmth and affection, and if our recollections unearth something negative we are shown ways to safely deal with this once and for all, and move on.

“Pat took us on a creative journey of discovery to look at life and ourselves from a different perspective”

“Pat puts our words and our simple sentences together into the most beautiful poetry. We are amazed and encouraged to write more. Writing is no longer strenuous or arduous, it becomes pleasurable.

“Pat is such a knowledgeable and talented lady. She took us on a creative journey of discovery to look at life and ourselves from a different perspective. To find safe and supported ways to express ourselves, and unwrap the artistic sides of us we never knew existed.”

A laptop screen showing three Sue Ryder nurses during a virtual day services session

Supporting resilience and good mental health

Patricia Fleming is Volunteer Coordinator at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice and also a qualified Writing for Wellbeing practitioner. She plans and manages the sessions in addition to carrying out her normal role at the Gloucestershire hospice and is glad to have the opportunity to share her professional skills and experience with our patients and staff and to support the virtual programmes being offered by Sue Ryder.  

“I love this work and seeing people benefit from it in a safe and supportive environment is incredibly rewarding,” she said.

“Writing for Wellbeing supports resilience and good mental health and the sessions encourage patients to explore their thoughts and feelings, with each week focusing on a different theme or topic.” 

You know you're not alone

“Reading poetry together can also be a great source of comfort. They say that there isn't a feeling in the world that a poet hasn't already felt, and so I choose poems that reflect life in all its ups and downs.

“When you read a poem, written perhaps a hundred years ago, that seems to sum up exactly how you feel, then you know you're not alone. That’s a really good feeling for us to share, particularly at the current moment.” 

Recently, patients came together virtually to reflect on how the sessions helped them and together they created this poem called a ‘Pantoum’, a Malaysian poetic form that uses a particular rhythm and repetition to reflect around a subject:

My Writing Group

This group I call my friends

Sharing memories of sadness and joy

There are surprises in store!

The gift of a poem to share

 

Sharing memories of sadness and joy

Different views of the same idea

The gift of a poem to share

Putting pen to paper to relieve anxiety

 

Different views of the same idea

No need to be good at reading or spelling

Putting pen to paper to relieve anxiety

A glimpse into the rich tapestries of our lives

 

No need to be good at reading or spelling

There are surprises in store!

A glimpse into the rich tapestries of our lives

This group I call my friends

Hospice teams plan to collaborate further to support patients virtually with a greater variety of activities too, with joint arts and crafts sessions currently in development.

Find out more about Virtual Day Services

To find out more about making a referral to Thorpe Hall or Leckhampton Court Hospice's virtual day hospice service email sryc.thorpehall.dayservices@nhs.net or leckhamptoncourt.dayhospice@suerydercare.org