Storycare Symposium at Baycrest
December 21, 2016
More than 80 people gathered at Baycrest Health Sciences on Friday, December 9 for a special Storycare Symposium. The event brought together people who practice the art of storytelling, healthcare clinicians and educators, as well as older adults to talk about the idea of stories from different perspectives and to explore the use of storytelling in working with older adults in the context of healthcare.
“We are all products of stories, of the experiences that we had. Our stories shape the way we see the world and the situations we encounter in our daily lives,” says Melissa Tafler, coordinator of the Arts in Health Program at Baycrest. “Stories have a big impact, especially as we get older and with people who have dementia or other cognitive impairments. Stories offer us insight into who our clients are, what their values look like, what their experiences have been, and how we come to understand who they are in the bigger context of their lives, not just as somebody with the label of dementia.”
This symposium was organized in collaboration with Storytelling Toronto, a group that was founded by seven storytellers who wanted to encourage the renaissance of storytelling in modern society. Keynote speakers included Dr. Steve Sabat, a professor emeritus at Georgetown University, specializing in the subjective experience of having Alzheimer’s disease, and Mary Louise Chown, a Winnipeg-based storyteller who pioneered the use of storytelling in palliative care.
“We think Storycare is a concept that will spread, and that other institutions and healthcare settings will try to incorporate the arts, particularly the art of storytelling and writing, into their practices,” says Dan Yashinsky, artist-in-residence at Baycrest. “Our hope is that healthcare professionals’ daily rounds will not only include talking about the biology of their patients, but what stories they carry with them, and who keeps their stories alive if they are unable to tell them themselves.”
All of the symposium participants received a copy of the newly published Baycrest Wisdom Book, a collection of stories from the Baycrest community.