EPC has published over 1500 Biographies
Precisely 1511 Biographies have been produced as at the end of November, an incredible feat of our Volunteer EPC Biographers.
Although other organisations run the same or similar program, EPC has achieved the highest number of biographies in a community based palliative care organisation.
96 of EPC’s 220 volunteers have received additional in-house training to become palliative care biographers. Two products can be produced. One is an adult memoir with photos. The other is a memoir in the style of a children’s picture book for dying parents to create and leave for their children.
Over the years, we have been privileged to hear stories from prisoners of war, refugees, prostitutes, business people, housewives, hobbyists, politicians, and journalists. People close to 100 years old and people as young as 16. We have listened to stories of mental health, family secrets, disability, suburbia, survival, stellar success and desperate disappointments. We have heard funny stories and sad stories. Each and every story has been intriguing. Each and every story has been valuable.
The process of storytelling enables messages, philosophies, beliefs, memories and culture to pass from one person to the next. Many clients also report a reduction in anxiety, depression, pain and breathlessness and an increase in self esteem as a result of undertaking this.
Lee, one of our Biographers, says of the process: “[The clients] Pain seems to be completely out of their thoughts while we’re doing it. While they’re reminiscing they’re in a different world of memories..”
The finished pieces are appreciated by clients and their families, we received this testimonial earlier this year:
"On Thursday last, Stella Hewson delivered to me the final edition of my biography which I started at 50 years of age and due to my current ill health, would never have finished.
What a great day it was when she first visited me to discuss the project (I never knew that service existed). Such a kind capable and understanding person.
Over several visits to my home and discussions, she succeeded in turning my rough draft into something far more professional which gives me comfort, closure, and fulfilment. It is another part of my plan and preparation towards acceptance and knowing my children in particular, may understand me. In the words of the song "say it loud, say it clear". I am in deep gratitude to Stella devoting so much time and thought into making this happen and to Eastern Palliative Care for making it possible. "
The EPC Biography program has received lots of wonderful recognition in its time such as the Minister for Health Volunteering Award in the category of "Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer: Improving the Patient Experience Award 2018", features on television programmes ABC's 7.30 Report, Channel 10's The Project, multiple programs on Radio 774 (State and National) and various Newspapers.
There is even a research project being undertaken titled Storytelling in Life and Death by Karly Edgar in conjunction with La Trobe University.
EPC also trains other not-for-profit palliative care organisations to run their own volunteer based palliative care biography program and EPC’s model is now replicated all over Australia.
We’re revolutionizing the Biography program in 2022 running a pilot project where bereaved carers are able to work with biographers and have their story recorded too. We have called this part of the program – Chapter 2.
Here is some feedback from 2 carers and the biographers who have done the work with them.
“My bereaved client was very impressed with the final product. He thanked me and EPC for the time we had given him on this project. He told me it helped to distract him from his loss for a while.” Biographer – John Addison
“…she said when she had completed it she was teary but felt at peace with herself. “ Biographer – Margaret Scheltinga
There’s lots happening in our Volunteer Biography area but what remains the same is our focus on clients, carers and families and creating memories to treasure into the future.
If you’d like to become an EPC Volunteer in Biography, fill out an application form