Patients invited to record their life stories

Brian Farrant with Skip Atkins web (cropped)
Written by: Anita McCarthy

Skip Atkins is a volunteer and he has been specially trained to listen and record the personal accounts of people under the charity's care.      

"It's a privilege to be involved," said Skip, whose wife Jan attended the day services at Pemberton Place and was looked after on the inpatient unit before she died.     

"I would have loved it if Jan had done it.  Brian Farrant with Skip Atkins web    

"To be able to hear the voice of the person you love telling their story in their own words is fantastic.      

"My main role is to listen and record what people want to talk about.     

"Every account is confidential and each patient is given two USB memory sticks or CDs for them to keep free of charge.      

Some people may feel they have nothing particularly remarkable to say, but Skip says, everyone has their own life story to tell.      

"Before I start, I meet with people so they know what to expect and have a chance to think about what they want to talk about - this may be happy times, their childhood, achievements or special memories.      

"They may even want to leave a message to friends and family."      

The training and equipment is provided by Hospice Biographers, which is a new and nationwide charity and so far it has trained 15 hospices across the country to help people tell their stories.     

Brian Farrant has been under our care for more than a year and he decided to record his childhood memories for his wife Jean and their two children.     

"I really enjoyed it," said Brian, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, along with his 56th wedding anniversary.      

"I took the recording home and played it to my family and they loved it. They told me they had never heard some of the stories before."     

Skip is delighted that demand for the new service is growing and he is giving people the option of recording their story at the Hospice or their home so as many patients as possible can access it.