Congress: Narrative Care: a person-oriented approach to humane and effective care

Organisation: Dutch Lifestorylab, part of the IGS research institute at the University of Twente, the Netherlands

Date: March 8, 2013, 9.30-17.00

Venue: De Grolsch Veste, Enschede, the Netherlands

Costs: €200,- per participant

Register here

Patients and clients who seek care attribute meaning to their problems and complaints through stories. These stories also play an important role in developing a bond with their professional caregivers. Narrative care refers to the empathic and professional use of stories in health care. The narrative competence of professionals to listen, recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by these stories provides a crucial means to deliver person-oriented care.

During the last years a wide variety of approaches has been developed that recognize the role of narratives in different settings in somatic and mental health care. These approaches are effective in promoting meaningful living, social bonding, and trust. Narrative care is a humane way of caring for people, that can also be incorporated in an effective health care.

This conference provides an overview of research and practice in narrative care. Which inspiring new methods have been developed? What do we know about the quality of narrative approaches? Which narrative methods can be used to provide insights in the processes involved? How can these support the evidence base of narrative care? Besides introductory lectures there is a variety of workshops that allow participants to get to know narrative care from experts in the field. We want to inspire professionals, clients, patients, researchers, and policy makers.

Narrative care can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation, elderly care, and mental health care. All professionals in health care are invited to participate. Policy makers and researchers are also welcomed.

Morning programme: lectures

Keynote: Narrative Medicine: The Sense of Story as Critical Equipment for Care, prof. dr. Rita Charon, Columbia University, New York

Narrative care in the Netherlands, prof. dr. Ernst Bohlmeijer, University of Twente

Small story competence in (mental health) care practices, dr. Anneke Sools, University of Twente and dr. Carmen Schuhmann, University for Humanist Studies

Narrative technology assessment for health care policy, prof. dr. Frans Brom, Rathenau Institute & Utrecht University

Therapy narratives or how stories provide insights in the effectiveness of treatments, dr. Gerben Westerhof, University of Twente

Afternoon: workshops

In the afternoon there is a wide variety of workshops, introducing narrative-based methods and interventions (lifestory, life-review, fiction/literature, arts-based narrative, online self-help course, interactive narrative, future imagination, narrative therapy, small story approaches, etc.) in a diversity of health care fields and settings (e.g. nursing, elderly care, mental health care, medicine, psychiatry, community care, etc.) and with different client/patient groups (different age groups across the lifespan, different acute and chronic illnesses/diseases).

There are two English language workshops:

1. Narrative medicine workshop: Reading, writing, reading, making contact

Rita Charon (Voertaal Engels)

This interactive workshop will showcase some of the teaching methods of narrative medicine. We have learned that reading short texts together, talking about how these stories or poems work and work on us, and then doing short bursts of spontaneous writing in the shadow of the text can expand the mind and lead to surprising contact among participants. Participants will read short prose or poetry texts together, talk about them, and then write to creative prompts on the background of the texts we’ve read and talked about together. After a short period of spontaneous writing, participants will be encouraged to read to one another—in pairs or clusters—what they’ve written. The listeners will be encouraged to describe to the writer what they hear in both the plot and the form of what’s been written. All participants will then gather again as a whole group to talk about the experience.Theoretical essays about these methods will be distributed to workshop participants.

Rita Charon is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is also a general internist with a primary care practice in Presbyterian Hospital.

2. Telling one’s self: Imagined futures and storied pasts

Kevin Haines (Voertaal Engels)

I have previously used narrative as a tool for investigating and co-constructing the learning stories of language learners. By telling the stories of their past experiences, the learners were better able to consider possible futures or ‘imagined future selves’, which also brought them to revised evaluations of their current situation and learning needs. In particular the learners were asked to consider how their socialization, or ways of participating, in a learning community mediated further inclusion and learning. In some cases, however, it was also clear that non-participation presented a barrier to their learning, and in its extreme form this resulted in forms of exclusion. In this workshop, I would like to extend the model described above to professionals within the care profession. The workshop will encourage participants to consider critical moments in their professional lives, incidents that they would consider learning moments, and subsequently consider the meaning that such stories might have in their present or perhaps their ‘imagined future’ professional life. We will consider how such stories may also contribute to an individual’s ‘professional identity’ i.e. the image we portray to others of our professional selves (hence ‘telling one’s Self). We may also consider whether such stories, if shared in the workplace with colleagues, might contribute to a climate of shared professional reflection, which may engender a community of practice.

Kevin Haines (1963) is a trainer of lecturers, coaches and tutors in the International Bachelor’s in Medicine programme at UMCG. He has worked in international Higher Education settings in the Netherlands since 1992. His research background is in socio-linguistics, and he has used narrative as a means to investigate the socialization of language learners into their learning community.