From our September issue: Giskin Day’s open access “Enhancing relational care through expressions of gratitude: insights from a historical case study of almoner–patient correspondence” explores how gratitude was central to the remarkable success of Brompton Hospital almoners tasked with keeping in touch with patients who had received sanatorium treatment for tuberculosis. Hear more about the work in this short audio clip:
Drawing on a rich archive of over 1500 letters dating from 1905 to 1963, Day gives examples of a variety of forms of gratitude, including donations, gifts, and – most valuable of all – information. Letters from the almoners were written in a way that made patients feel cared about long after their discharge from the sanatorium. Day discusses how gratitude as a moral imperative was a lasting legacy of the voluntary hospital system. The correspondence also reflects the almoners’ struggles to disentangle their financial role from their social work – a predicament that led to the term ‘almoner’ becoming anachronistic after the health service was nationalised. In the last part of the paper, Day analyses the semantic strategies in the letters, showing how they changed in the 1950s from personalised, bespoke, first-person missives to corporate correspondence. She puts forward recommendations for relationship building in contemporary healthcare based on insights from the gratitude expressed in the letters.
More about Giskin Day
Giskin Day is researching the expression and reception of gratitude as part of a Wellcome-funded PhD studentship at King’s College London. She is also a Principal Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London with a specialism in medical humanities.