Death can be a sensitive and dragging topic among those facing it, and their loved ones. As well as to medical professionals working in the intensive care unit, it can be stressful to handle dying patients. This may be the reason why a group of Canadian experts came up with a process to lift up the gloom of death.
Medical professionals at the ICU of St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario, created the 'Word Clouds'. This process draws out happy memories to comfort the families of the dying. Doctors said the practice is favorable for them, too.
“Word Clouds provide the opportunity to create a human connection,” said study coauthor France Clarke, also of McMaster University in an interview
. “They reinvigorate the passion that brought (providers) to this career and do some healing to the people who are around.”
Word Clouds are images that represent the patient. Generated through the website wordle.net, the representations are dervied from the descriptions of the loved ones and the professionals who looked after the dying patients.
"Word Clouds were composed of words assembled by clinicians either directly talking with families and patients or indirectly based on their knowledge of the patient, or words compiled by families themselves," said in the study.
Dr. Meredith Vanstone, an assistant professor of family medicine at McMaster University, and her team interviewed 37 relatives and 73 healthcare providers of 42 dying patients who were Word Cloud subjects. Experts said the process was surprisingly meaningful.
“It’s a way to get families away from thinking about negative things going on,” Vanstone said in a post
The Word Clouds comprise of about 50 descriptions of the dying patients. For example, phrases like, hardworking, best-uncle-ever, Bob-Dylan, fishing and union-man, are placed around the patient's name.
According to the study, Word Clouds help the loved ones to heal during and after the depressing period. Several family members reported they look at the images regularly, which make them feel closer to the departed.
“Having it is a chance to reflect and remember,” Vanstone said.