Storytelling and writing is one of the best practices in bringing to live positive and negative impacts of projects aimed at improving palliative care to patients with life limiting illnesses.

It is in this light that nine health care providers under the Tropical Health & Education Trust (THET) project attended a two-day workshop on the Most Significant Change (MSC) to learn and improve their story writing skills.

Drawn from Nyeri Provincial General Hospital (PGH), Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) Eldoret and Homa Bay District Hospital, which are selected areas for running the project, the providers engaged in discussions on how they can identify and bring out the most significant change in their areas of work.

KEHPCA’s Education and Research Officer Dr Asaph Kinyanjui gave an overview of the project and its background as well as palliative care as a service to patients with life limiting illnesses.

Dr Kinyanjui said that having a collective responsibility in provision of palliative care to patients with life limiting illnesses and reporting back the significant changes would help in assessment and evaluation of the successes of the project.

M/s. Naome Wandera, a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) consultant at John Snow Incorporation (JSI), a public health management consulting and research organization dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities throughout the world led the workshop organized by Africa Palliative Care Association (APCA) in partnership with Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHCPA) in Nairobi.

M/s. Wandera said that this is one of the best practices of the project to document the outcome of the project and assess its impact as per the set objectives.

“We want to help participants with the technique of writing stories as a feedback mechanism to the project.” She said.

The M& E consultant said that this is a way of collecting experiences from the program implementers at the field level for decision making and advocacy.

“Even at the district levels, such stories can be used to communicate the impact of the project to the community.” She said.

The monitoring and evaluation consultant said as a way of tracking results for desired impact, it is necessary to equip the implementers with knowledge on how to identify change and bring it out in a story.

“There are several areas you can do a story on. Some of you have been trained in palliative care and you have learnt various ways of doing things. Maybe you learnt a different way of doing things or the positive or negative aspects of a procedure, and this is one of the areas you can write a story on.” She told the participants.

Participants shared stories from their areas of work, some of which they were tasked to write as a way of learning how to use writing techniques to make a story interesting.

Jennifer Kinyanjui, a nurse from Nyeri PHG told of an incident where two teenagers who were admitted for an amputation that she counseled before going to theatre and though they cried, they were able to come out smiling and accept their state.

This, she said, are areas that providers would write significant change stories on to highlight the impact of the project.

M/s. Pauine Wamae from the same hospital said that she has dealt with many cases that could be captured in a story but she never thought of telling this in a story.

“It is one thing to tell a story and it is another to put it down in writing.” She said.

M/s. Wandera advised participants to put the reader in mind. She said that readers have a conversation whenever they are reading a story.

Among the objectives of the training were orienting participants to the MSC technique, Practice storytelling and writing, Identify significant change stories and apply the most significant change story selection criteria to pick areas that indicate change in their area of work.

Aileen Njabani, a social worker form Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) said that the workshop has enlightened her more on palliative care having initially thought that it is only applicable to cancer patients only.

“I have realized that counseling is very important for positive change if palliative care for a patient.” She said.

Jennifer Kinyanjui from Nyeri Provincial General Hospital said the training was a wonderful experience in narrating the most significant change story.

“I have realized that a story is easier narrated than put down on paper. Through this training, I believe I have been equipped with tips to write a good story.” She said.

From Homa Bay District Hospital, M/s. Mary Otieno said that she has gained skills to facilitate palliative care delivery at the hospital especially on inspiring real life stories that she encounters on a daily basis.

“I can easily be able to identify significant change achieved at our place of work, which was hard before attending this training.” M/s. Otieno said.

Florence Omoroh from the same hospital said that she has acquired knowledge on writing good titles and the subsequent systematic flow of a story.

“It has also improved my desire to read more stories in the news papers and on the internet to learn more on how to write.” She said.

Mrs. Josephine Orina from MTRH said that she could pass the knowledge she acquired at the workshop to her colleagues back at the hospital to enhance service delivery.

“The training has put me in a better position to help patients with life limiting illnesses as well as report the impact such trainings are having to the patients, relatives and caregivers.” Mrs. Orina said.

Sheffield Akinyi, a social worker from Homa Bay District Hospital said that the training has enabled her to recognize that as she dispenses her duties as a social worker and palliative care service provider in Homa Bay District, she should bring to light the impact of their trainings of their trainings to patients and the community at large through stories.

At the end of the training, the facilitator issued story writing template forms to the participants for easy documentation of the MSC in their day to day activities at their work stations.