The Oral History Services Project works with people with life-threatening or potentially life-limiting conditions within the STH NHS Foundation Trust to create life story audio recordings. The project runs under the auspices of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield led by Michelle Winslow and Sam Smith.
Oral history is the audio recording of memories, experiences and feelings; it preserves voices, participants are involved in producing their own life histories and it offers opportunities for participation across a range of abilities. In health care settings, an oral history interview is a chance for individuals to record their story for their own benefit and as a family legacy. The project can respond to requests from any area of the Trust however the people most likely to participate are those with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. Much of the project’s work currently takes place in palliative care, dementia, cancer and renal services.
All potential interviewees are given an information sheet to enable them to make an informed choice about whether or not to participate. Participants may record an interview in one session or they may continue in a number of sessions. It is common for interviewees to include family and friends in preparatory conversations and they may ask for photographs or objects to be brought from home to prompt memory. These items can become a focus for shared family reminiscence.
During the interview, the interviewer guides the participant, using straightforward prompting questions to help develop their stories. The oral history team is sensitive to the possibility that difficult memories might cause upset and works closely with health professionals to ensure that patients’ interests are best served.
After each interview, interviewees are asked for signed consent to archive their recording and to enable it to be shared. The agreed final version is given to the participant in their preferred digital format. Recordings are permanently archived with the University of Sheffield Special Collections Library to ensure preservation into the future for family, friends and for use in education and research.
Project webpage: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/snm/research/oralhistory
Dr Michelle Winslow
University Teacher in Adult Palliative and End of Life Care,
Oral History Lead, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
University of Sheffield
The School of Nursing and Midwifery
Barber House Annexe,
3a Clarkehouse Road
Sheffield, S10 2LA
Tel: 0114 222 2077