This week is Children’s Hospice week, celebrating children’s hospice and palliative care services across the UK, and the seriously ill children and young people they support.
As an organisation which specialises in working with sensitive subject matter, including children’s palliative care, we have put together this blog post to help charities think about their approach to creating content concerning children’s hospices and palliative care.
1. Don’t let your vision get in the way of the real story
Every single child or parent who has been through an experience of palliative care has a completely different experience. Creating a safe environment and asking very open questions will allow your subject to tell their true story in their own words. In one of our videos, a subject asked to read a poem he’d written and along with the client, we decided to re-shape the video from our original vision in order to include it. It’s so important to honour the subject’s true story, and by leaning into this truth your content will resonate even more with audiences.
Watch Sam’s story here.
2. Allow more time than you might usually expect
When dealing with such a sensitive topic, we find that giving contributors extra time not only makes them feel more cared for and safe, but will result in a better video. Child mortality is so difficult to talk about, and giving your subject space to breathe between questions and time to really process their experience will make the process easier for them and allow them to share their story as honestly and fully as possible.
3. Let your subject choose the space
If possible, it’s great to pick a location where your subject will feel most comfortable. This might be a hospice where there are nurses they know on standby to help them feel safe, or their own home where they might feel more comfortable expressing difficult emotions. If you’re speaking to a child, perhaps let them hold onto a toy or a parent’s hand. Always keep the contributor’s comfort in mind.
Watch Taz’s story here
4. Ease your contributor in to the more difficult questions
If working with a bereaved parent, it’s a good idea to ease them in by getting them to talk about the child in a way that isn’t related to end of life or palliative care. Perhaps start by asking about any siblings they have, what they like to do together as a family or their favourite TV show. This may help the contributor to feel more comfortable and ease them into discussing the more difficult aspects. Do of course remember to check in with them regularly to make sure they’re feeling okay or if they need to skip a question or take a break.
5. Make sure the family gets something out of the experience
We hope that telling their story will in itself be helpful for contributors to get it off their chest and help others in the process. However, we would also recommend offering to take some family photos from the day and a copy of the video to show appreciation and give them a positive memory of the experience.
Watch Carly and Effie’s Story here.
Create space for yourself
Make sure that you set aside time for yourself after being involved in the creation of content around hospices and palliative care. After putting your subject first and caring for their needs, it’s important to also check in with your own needs and perhaps set aside a mental health day to process the stories you’ve heard and do some self-care.
If you have beneficiary stories to tell, which need a sensitive storytelling approach, feel free to email email@example.com for a chat n' a cuppa.