Our Story

Mary Matthiessen

Nicola Rudge

Why me? How can I start?

What could I possibly do to make a difference?  

There is an incredible amount of information out there about advance care planning and end of life care internationally, yet the ‘leave it till later’ mentality still exists.

why do we care?

Like you, we each have our stories of love and loss. Some beautiful, others harrowing. Like you, we are also looking ahead to our own future care, want the best, yet know that’s not guaranteed-especially if we do nothing. We were crazy enough to believe we just might be able to make a difference. We combined our visions for what we hoped for our future, our skills and experience as an international healthcare educator and designer, and our passions for social innovation to help people turn their experiences, like ours, into positive actions for change. Why? Because we believe the quality of our lives and our future care depends on it.

what matters most?

A single achievable goal: engaging communities in conversations that support compassionate care for our last days of living. Engaging in conversations with each other to support what matters most. Because simply educating and instructing the public,  healthcare professionals or communities about forms or choices doesn’t touch the core of where change happens-the heart. Facilitation with products based on the stories of local people offers a combination of communication skills and content infused with compassion and a common goal. From there change is not limited by a rote answer, but by what those across a community believe is possible.

what do we hope to achieve?

We work to make it easy for individuals and communities to raise this awareness and collaborate towards a single achievable goal: engaging communities in end of life conversations and care. We hold mutual aims with the organisations and individuals we work with to support the international movement for compassionate communities, one individual, staff person, conversation or community at a time.

how?

By delivering what we do best to those in a position to reach many.

  • Health and social care organisations contract with us to deliver consulting or project management to deliver community-wide interventions on a project by project basis.
  • Learning and Development Managers contract with us for direct training delivery
  • Educator/Facilitators are either funded by their organisation or pay directly for their own skills development to attend our facilitator trainings.

The projects we engage in with our clients and facilitators benefit many individuals, groups, and organisations whose work and collaboration are all needed to create change over time. Yet limits on funding, staffing, or time to develop and deliver integrated initiatives prevent community awareness and collaboration from happening.

This is how it works:

  1. Your organisation and facilitators can deliver our approach and materials to support the public and staff  across your community.
  2. We deliver consulting, coaching and facilitator training based on the success of our approach and materials, and will continue to create innovative products because that’s what we love to do.
  3. Your community benefits as a result.
who are we?
Mary Matthiesen

Mary Matthiesen is an international healthcare educator, programme director and community facilitator promoting culture change in support of living and dying well. She is director of Stories to Change and Conversations for Life, delivering consulting, public and professional workshops and a community-based (film, web, workshop) model to address one of the most significant issues facing our generation-compassionate end of life care. Mary brings 25 years front-line experience in healthcare education and executive leadership working with regional and national organisations in the US around sudden death and organ donation, women and heart disease, sacred dying and suicide and mental illness. Her personal commitment to improving end of life care is based on delivering workshops to thousands of members of the public and professionals alike, interviews with leaders in the field, and personal experience supporting both parents at end of life. She holds a degree in Psychobiology and certificates from Stanford University in Executive Leadership and is a trained facilitator with the Cancer Monologue Project. She has been the executive producer of “Care for the Journey” CD for healthcare professionals, “Women and Heart Disease” DVD, and “Breaking the Silence”, DVD. Since moving to the UK, she established MEM Associates, Ltd. under which she delivered the first community-wide Conversations for Life public health pilot project in collaboration with NHS Cumbria. The project received a national endorsement by the Department of Health.

Pauline Nicola Rudge

Nicola Rudge is an innovation catalyst bringing 25 years experience in design and media production and consulting internationally. After a successful career in media as Art Director and Production Designer with Granada Television, she entered the design world in visitor attractions, award-winning hotels, and strategic design consulting. Her focus is always on the ‘whole approach’ based on the unique story behind any project. Personally, she has held a position as a patient advocate and as such played an instrumental role in what has now become the Manchester Diabetes Centre. In 2007 she returned to her passion of “film for good”, completing a documentary film course with the San Francisco School of Documentary Film Making and taking a role as Production Assistant on “Get Hip to Good Food” – a film that has since inspired regional and government support in rebuilding edible school gardens in the aftermath of hurricaine Katrina in New Orleans. After returning to the UK, she  joined Mary Matthiesen as creative and business director of Conversations for Life and co-director of Stories to Change.

She holds a degree from Manchester University of Technology, is a current member of BECTU, is a trained facilitator with the Cancer Monologue Project, the Expert Patient Programme, and is a certified master NLP practitioner

 

We are grateful for the input and feedback from our many advisors including:

Carol Burrow

Business and Training Consultant with a career history gained within Blue Chip organisations over a 20 year period. Including roles as HR executive for Rank Holidays, Oasis, Marks and Spencer, Norweb etc

I was struck by their vision for the work and the enormous passion that has propelled it through a myriad of circumstances. They have a message to deliver that has application to the entire human race and a vehicle that allows us all to deal with that difficult conversation- “How do I want to die?”

Catherine Connor Aspire Photographic Training

Helen Clayson, MD

Nick Fayers, Development manager, School of Health & Medicine, Lancaster University.

Katherine Froggart, PhD, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK

Dawn Tierney, MS, Chaplain

Archived Blog Posts
Conversations for Life
CFL for Individuals
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