S. Corbino1, S. Gheno2, M. Scrignaro2

1Associazione seed (SWITZERLAND)
2Well at Work (ITALY)
Healthcare workers are employed in hospitals, home care, nursing homes, hospices or clinics, and are in charge of the daily care, hygiene, nutrition and comfort of citizens, being in close contact with them.

Such group of professional undergoes high level or job-related stress, due to several reasons: like having to fulfil too high expectations (Ruotsalainen et al 2014), or being exposed to traumatic events and suffering experiences (Wentzel et al, 2014).

Excessive stress is to be avoided because it may harm both professionals’ wellbeing and their capacity to deliver high quality care to citizens (Smart et al, 2013). It is thus fundamental to help healthcare workers balancing their private and professional lives; building suitable working environment, and facing critical situations they experience on a daily base.

Reaching the abovementioned objectives is the driver of the ongoing project StorySHOP - Storytelling for Social and Health Care Workers Professional Identity Development, funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme.

The purpose of StorySHOP is developing a digital storytelling (DST) based training programme, integrated by a set of instructional materials, addressing healthcare workers and aiming at increasing their capacity to manage the most stressful elements of their daily professional experience.
DST based activities have already been applied to the healthcare environment, in several ways, but the peculiarity of StorySHOP project is specifically addressing healthcare workers, and allowing them to analyse and elaborate the most stressful situation of their professional experience, by telling a personal story. Moreover, rendering a story in digital format is twice as beneficial to the target group: on the one hand, it allows them in increase their information and communication technology (ICT) skills and competencies; on the other hand, watching a video increases the emotional power of the message delivered by healthcare workers. Furthermore, rendering a story in digital format makes it easier for storytellers to consider its subject as an external object, thus facilitating its analysis and re-elaboration.

StorySHOP consortium consists of healthcare training institutions and organisations of experts in the field of DST, Vocational and Educational Training (VET) and digital storytelling, based in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

In order to illustrate the training methodology developed within StorySHOP, the project partner institutions have developed a handbook, providing users with step-by-step guidelines through DST process, and addressing both healthcare workers who wish to produce a digital story and trainers who want to integrate such activity into their ordinary teaching initiatives or programmes.

The methodology was piloted with two groups of healthcare workers and students in Lugano, Switzerland, yielding surprisingly successful and deep results. In addition, a group of trainers from Denmark and the United Kingdom were trained and made able to deliver DST based training initiatives to their students, in their home countries, in order to increase their capacity to manage job related stress and avoid burnout.
All digital stories produced, and the pedagogical materials used in such circumstances were uploaded to the project website: