Ms Pip (Victoria) Hardy
Born in Los Angeles in the middle of the last century, I grew up in the sunny climate of California before being shipped off to boarding school in England at the age of 15. Hard work seemed like the best way to survive and was also the route to an English degree at the University of Durham. Marriage and children quickly followed.
Watching my children grow and learn sparked an interest in learning and education and I trained as a Montessori teacher while living in Sri Lanka. I soon ended up back in the UK, teaching adults rather than children at the local FE college - literature evening classes, women’s studies, communication and what was euphemistically known as ‘liberal studies’.
I was a reluctant lecturer and eventually left for a YMCA-funded project aimed at helping homeless and jobless people acquire the social and job-seeking skills, and combined that with a stint as a journalist on the local paper before a chance job at the National Extension College allowed me to combine writing and education in the development of open and distance learning materials.
I learned a lot about writing and editing and publishing, learner-centred learning, reflective practice, andragogy (a little-known theory of adult learning developed by a man called Malcolm Knowles – see www.infed.org) and the critical relationship between form and content. This was a great way to earn a living but I was intrigued by the links between learning and healing (a la Carl Rogers, Mezirow and others) so did an introductory group analysis training before embarking on a psychodynamic counselling course. That was brilliant, but counselling wasn’t going to pay the children’s university fees, so I set up a small education consultancy specialising in the design and development of high quality, bespoke educational materials, focusing particularly on the health sector and the development of clinical governance (www.pilgrimprojects.co.uk)
Over the past six years our work has focussed on the facilitation, creation and dissemination of digital stories of healthcare via the Patient Voices Programme for use as an educational resource with the intention of affecting both policy and practice by touching the hearts as well as the minds of those who practice, manage and commission health and social care.
I have for many years sought to find a way of bringing together elements of my personal life as a long-term Buddhist practitioner with my professional life.
The Patient Voices work has enabled me to integrate skills, knowledge, attitudes and passions developed throughout my life. An unexpected reward has been the benefits experienced by many of the 400+ people who have shared their stories in this way, together with the many opportunities to practise compassion.
My approach to digital storytelling facilitation is grounded in the practice of mindfulness – the moment-by-moment awareness of what is happening in the here and now - and based on Buddhist ethical principles regarding the preservation of life and property, the cultivation of harmonious speech and the regard for that which will promote health and wellbeing. These principles, and all Buddhist practices, including that of mindfulness, are directed ultimately to the cultivation of compassion – a quality often lacking in health and social care.
If you are interested in the Patient Voices Programme and digital storytelling in healthcare, the website is www.patientvoices.org.uk