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Fiona Sampson
The Healing Word

Fiona Sampson pioneered the development of writing in health care in the UK. Her publication The Healing Word – a practical guide to poetry and personal development activities, commissioned by the Poetry Society, researches the nature and effects of poetry and healing activities based on actual accounts by workers and users in the health care system. Especially noteworthy are her “Ten Commandments” for good practice in running a poetry project in a healthcare setting. These include:

making sure there is supervision in order to provide a briefing and debriefing support system for the poet;

avoid a competitive environment;

ensure confidentiality with all participants’ writing.

As in any project, being clear about the remit equals good management. However, she suggested that future residencies could benefit from a project manager such as the Poetry Society. Especially in healthcare, poets are working alongside health professionals with very specific outcome models, so the more professionally managed a project is the better. “At the moment we know arts and poetry in healthcare is good because it’s about access… we could also advocate that people are taking part in a prestigious artistic endeavour”, says Sampson.

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