Volunteers support Sue Ryder patients to record life stories over Zoom

Beth Singleton and Tracy Hannam are currently volunteering with the Palliative Rehabilitation Team at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, using Zoom to speak to patients and record their life stories.

Image of Sue Ryder volunteers, Beth and Tracey

The process involves setting up a few Zoom sessions with the patient to speak to them about different areas of their lives. This usually begins with memories from childhood, school and hobbies, before moving on to conversations about their career, achievements, relationships and loved ones.

The story is then prepared, together with any other items they would like to include such as photographs. The life story is presented to the patient, which they can choose to leave as a legacy for their family and friends.

'So much wisdom, knowledge and experience to share'

Volunteer story writer, Beth, said: “Most people think their life is boring, but when you start talking to them it is not at all! Lot of the patients I speak to are older people and they have so much wisdom,  knowledge and experience to share."

"Life stories are full of surprises and it’s also interesting to hear, especially in the current situation we’re in, about how some people have coped through hard times such as World War II. I love talking to people and finding out what they’ve been through in their lives - whether it’s good, bad, happy, sad.”

Tracy added: “It’s a great pleasure to be able to do a life story for somebody. For someone to share such personal memories with me is a real privilege, and I just hope that I do their story justice and that their personality comes through in the story. I want the family to be able to hear them in how it has been written."

Leaving something behind for loved ones

74-year-old Brenda, who is using the hospice’s virtual day therapy service, recently had her life story written by Tracy.

“I have a 7-month old granddaughter and just before I found out she was on her way, I was diagnosed with liver and bone cancer."

"The idea is that even if she doesn't get the chance to really get to know me, she can still know about me through my life story. I thought that this would be a nice way of leaving something behind for her. I have found life interesting - not always easy - but always interesting.”

More information

Find out more about the services at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice.