Transprofessional issues in professional practice

Life Threads and Identity
following a Stroke
Dr Caroline Ellis-Hill
School of Health and Social Care
Bournemouth University
Sudden life change
‘Its a very severe thing to happen to anyone
its not like getting a -you know - having a broken arm or
something like that
which incapacitates you for a couple of months
Put your arm in plaster
and normally just take the plaster off
and get back to where you were before 1364/1
... you lead a normal life one day
and within a matter of minutes, overnight
it all comes to an end ’ 1387/1
Fundamental change in life
“Nobody knows
I didn’t know that Friday
it was just a perfectly ordinary Friday
.. just the same routine
and it was gone
within seconds it was gone
your whole life is completely changed within seconds
and that’s all it takes with a stroke
is seconds
one thing and your life is completely different
I don’t know, its a strange feeling
its the most frightening thing” 1151/2
Ellis-Hill and Payne (2001)
Life Thread Model
Ellis-Hill et al 2008
Parallel life threads
Life threads frayed
New reality
I had entered the strange and new experience
which I now know as ‘disability country.’ Of
course it is not a different country but it often
felt like it - with different names, expectations,
conventions and possibilities.
McKenzie 1996, p42
Loss of confidence
I had not been conscious of loosing it [confidence], but
in the period since my stroke it ‘leaked away’. I had
become very well adapted to living in an institutional
environment and had not experienced many of
those small day to day cues that keep you informed
that you are an okay ‘normal’ person. Now my
unconscious was dominated by a ‘disability outlook’
and a fear of failure in the ‘real’ world. This was
nobodies fault. Merely an inevitable consequence
of institutionalisation.
Cant 1997, p303
Both visible and invisible work
• Person and family have to work to develop new
physical and social skills and practical ways of being
in the world (visible work)
• This is underpinned and can only take place by
creating and re-creating new life threads to guide
future plans in life (invisible work)
Life threads frayed
Life threads joined
It can be a difficult journey
Need support for re-creation –creativity
To access own creativity need
support to
Have patience
Be open-minded
Be non- judgemental
Be able to be vulnerable
Tolerate uncertainty
Let down mask to others
Focus on process not
Claxton and Lucas (2008)
Van Lith 2010
[People] regarded art making as an activity
that they used to change or transform
themselves in some way, as opposed to
them being passive recipients of services.
Using art making as a vehicle to take control,
empowered [people], and resulted in them
feeling stronger, and more confident [in
their life]
• Arts for Health –gaining recognition
– London Arts in Health Forum (
• Developing research at Bournemouth
• Can be creative and express self in many
ways for example, through sport, gardening ,
cooking , music etc
Thank-you !
To find out more
please e-mail
Caroline Ellis-Hill
cehill @ bournemouth