Home away from home? A case study of bedside objects in a hospice
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This is a descriptive case study employing a photographic survey of the numerous objects that patients and their social networks bring to a hospice setting. Photographs were taken of all objects kept by the bedside by 31 inpatients in a hospice in the UK county of Durham. These objects ranged from assorted food and drink, greetings cards and magazines, to more specific personal items such as family photos, children's drawings, and religious icons. A total of 176 objects were analysed. There were two principle findings. First, patients appeared to bring objects to a hospice setting that reflected their desire to partially recreate their home settings or functions, however modestly. Second, despite a major diversity of objects, and the fact that most objects underlined desires for distraction, entertainment and social contact, almost every individual patient harboured at least one personally unique object. These two observations--creating some semblance of 'home' and the existence of uniqueness amid a plethora of expected patient paraphernalia--suggest important reconsideration of both hospice settings and the possibility of new ways to engage patients about meaning, illness and loss.
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