Nursing Times Award Winner

Simple life history in a picture frame helps communication with stroke victim

When my mother lost her speech and general ability to communicate with anyone following a brain injury, I wrote out, in bold clear type, and placed in an A4 frame, what I felt were the highlights of her life so that visitors, whether friends or carers in the hospital, could use the information for simple conversation

The information included the names of her children and grandchildren and a simple line about what they are currently doing. A couple of lines about her husband, who died twenty years ago. I also wrote about the different places she had lived throughout her life, her various jobs and hobbies. We then added a few small photos to the page to illustrate all these achievements and to remind friends and staff how vibrant she had been throughout her life.

Anyone thinking of doing anything similar should check with the patient, if they are able to respond, and the ward staff. I was very careful about what I wrote and the pictures I chose. I simply hoped that this simple information would encourage visitors and staff to engage with my mother, perhaps because they had lived close by at some stage or had children and grandchildren doing similar things. I also wanted them to realise that the silent, paralysed lady in the bed had been a wonderful wife, continued to be a brilliant mum and grandmother and was also a former tennis champion, a sprinter and a brilliant cook.

Jill

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