Narrative and Palliative Care Team Identity Formation

Main Article Content

Denise Hess


Palliative care is whole person care that attends to the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of persons with a serious or life-limiting illness. This care is provided by a team of clinicians from several disciplines including physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains. The palliative care team functions as a dynamic system whose ability to provide quality care is dependent upon the ability of the team members to form and maintain an ongoing collaborative alliance. This alliance requires that team members maintain dual commitments to both the care receivers and to their fellow team members. Just as persons with illness express the human propensity toward meaning making in the face of suffering, so palliative care teams thrive when they are supported in reflective processes that enhance their ability to find meaning in their work. Creation of and attention to team narratives and their role in team identity formation can enhance team members’ flourishing by placing team identity in the context of a larger story. Narratives of rescuing and fixing foster a sense of control and expertise while narratives of containing and healing nurture attention to mindful presence and human-to-human encounter.

Article Details

How to Cite
Hess, D. (2014). Narrative and Palliative Care Team Identity Formation. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 1(2).
Theoretical Papers
Author Biography

Denise Hess, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center-Torrance, California, USA


Gawande A. Cowboys and pit crews. The New Yorker 2011; May 26 [cited 2013 Nov]. Available from:

Rodgers J. Safe passage. Prevention. 2012;64(4):74-81.

Byock I. The best care possible. New York: Penguin; 2012. P.172.

Friebert S. A palette of care. J Pall Care. 2012 July 27 [cited 2013 Nov]. Available from:

Frankl V. Man's search for meaning. Boston: Beacon Press; 2000:ix.

Papadatou D. In the face of death. New York: Springer; 2009. P. 271.

Fuks A. Healing, wounding, and the language of medicine. In: Hutchinson T, ed. Whole Person Care: A new paradigm for the 21st century. New York: Springer; 2011. P. 83-95.

Papadatou D, Bluebond-Langer M, Goldman A. The team. In: Wolfe J, Hinds P, Sourkes B, editors. Textbook of Interdisciplinary Pediatric Palliative Care. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2011. P. 55-63.

Kearney M. A place of healing. New Orleans: Springer; 2009. P. 266.

Kearney M. A place of healing. New Orleans: Springer; 2009. P. 186.

Kearney M. A place of healing. New Orleans: Springer; 2009:xxii.

Kearney M. A place of healing. New Orleans: Springer; 2009. P.56.

Kabat-Zinn J. Full catastrophe living. New York: Bantam; 2009.