The Lockdown Chronicles 38: The Department of Health and Social Care

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Click on the image below to read the comic strip in full size. Sources and references on this post under the comic strip below.

The Department of Health and Social Care tweets.
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Source: Department of Health and Social Care. “As of 9am 6 June, there have been 5,438,712 tests, with 218,187 tests on 5 June. 284,868 people have tested positive. As of 5pm on 5 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,465 have sadly died. More info at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public” Tweet. @DHSCgovuk 2:11 PM BST, June 6, 2020. Twitter Web App. Available from https://twitter.com/DHSCgovuk/status/1269255676020301824 [Accessed 6 June 2020].

This comic strip CC-BY-NC-SA.

 

References and additional resources

Department of Health and Social Care. “As of 9am 6 June, there have been 5,438,712 tests, with 218,187 tests on 5 June. 284,868 people have tested positive. As of 5pm on 5 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,465 have sadly died.
More info at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public” Tweet. @DHSCgovuk 2:11 PM BST, June 6, 2020. Twitter Web App. Available from https://twitter.com/DHSCgovuk/status/1269255676020301824 [Accessed 6 June 2020].

Gov.uk. Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK, available at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk [Accessed 6 June 2020]

Office for National Statistics, “Latest data and analysis on coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK and its effect on the economy and society.” Available at  https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases [Accessed 6 June 2020]

Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, available at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/ [Accessed 6 June 2020]

Sandle, P., and Faulconbridge, G. Reuters. (28 March 2020) World News.
“UK coronavirus death toll under 20,000 would be ‘good result’, says health chief”. Available fromhttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-britain/uk-coronavirus-death-toll-under-20000-would-be-good-result-says-health-chief-idUSKBN21F0HV . [Accessed 6 June 2020]

The Lockdown Chronicles is a series of periodical comic strips made at night (in candlelight!) adapting and reusing openly-licensed or public domain items from online digital collections. Publication and tweetage are scheduled in advance. Historical sources are adapted and updated for the current pandemic; please refer to each strip’s references on each post for further context.  Catch up with the series at https://epriego.blog/tag/the-lockdown-chronicles/.

Interviewed by Abi Roper re: Parables of Care

Dr Abi Roper is a Research Fellow at City, University of London. She is a speech and language therapist and researcher passionate about technology use within atypical speech & language populations.

Recently Abi asked me some questions about working on Parables of Care for the project’s blog. I have copied and pasted the original post below.


Parables of Care: A Q&A with Ernesto Priego

by Abi Roper

This post was originally published at the Parables of Care blog on 26 October 2017 at https://blogs.city.ac.uk/parablesofcare/2017/10/26/parables-of-care-a-qa-with-ernesto-priego/. If at some point in the future links to embedded media appear broken it is because the source post may have been changed location or is undergoing maintenance.

 

Dr Ernesto Priego
Dr Ernesto Priego, City, University of London

 

Ernesto Priego is a lecturer at the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design at City, University of London and the Editor of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship.

Ernesto worked in partnership with Dr Simon Grennan of the University of Chester, Dr Peter Wilkins of Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada, an NHS Trust, and colleages from HCID, leading the team to produce Parables of Care.

I asked Ernesto some questions about working on Parables of Care.

 

As a speech and language therapist researcher, I work with people who have aphasia and may have difficulty in reading large amounts of written text. People with dementia can experience similar challenges. What do you think the comics format offers that other mediums might not?

Ernesto Priego: My view is that comics are a unique medium because they often rely on a unique, complementary combination of writing, still graphic images and other components of visual communication. There are, of course, comics that are very wordy—they employ a lot (and I mean a lot) of written text. And there are, of course, comics that include almost no text at all (titles, indicia, series names are also written text). Unlike animation, video, TV or cinema, most comics, particularly printed ones, allow users / readers to linger on the comics page. Comics are therefore, in their own way, a very ‘mindful’ medium, as they often rely on a type of hyper awareness of concrete and abstract constraints, of context.

In most comics, time passes through different vehicles so to speak: through the time of the written text, the time represented through layout (panel size and arrangement and the placement of characters, backgrounds, props, narrative components), the time represented through panels in sequence and the gap between them, and the time it takes each reader to read or navigate the comic itself. So comics are a very complex medium indeed, but at the same time they give users a freedom to linger and to interpret information in a way that synchronic media such as music, video, TV or film do not allow them to.

Rather than just a question of comics being able to present ideas without the need for many words, in this case we think of comics as a medium that can actually evoke the kind of de-structured and re-structured experience of time that is akin to dementia but also to illness, ageing and caring in general (Paco Roca’s Wrinkles does this very well).

 Illustration from Wrinkles, a graphic novel by Paco Roca (© Knockabout Comics, 2015) Illustration from Wrinkles, a graphic novel by Paco Roca (© Knockabout Comics, 2015)
Illustration from Wrinkles, a graphic novel by Paco Roca. © Knockabout Comics, 2015

In many cases, people with dementia, as well as their carers, experience a time which is ‘out of joint’ (Hamlet, that tragic hero…). The fragmentary yet sequential structure of the comics in Parables of Care seeks to communicate and empathise with this experience, and in this way it attempts to share a way of experiencing the world.

I’m more familiar with comics being used to tell stories of superheroes. How are Care’N’Share stories similar and/or different to these more traditional comics narratives?

EP: That’s a very good question. For many people the term ‘comics’ means ‘superheroes’. Comics are much more than superheroes but in the case of the Care’N’Share stories the analogy achieves the status of poetic justice. Peter said in the previous Q&A that the Care’N’Share caregiver-storytellers are poets. This is true. Your question makes me think that they are similar to Romantic poets, and in this sense to heroes. Caregiving is heroic because it is a journey, and the hero’s journey is both motivated and defined by a sense of ethics, a thirst for justice and order, and fate or destiny. I also think people with dementia are poets: they see the world in a way that forces the carer and other people to realign their way of seeing things. Like the poet, they often see things that others don’t. The carer is a poet-hero because they need to learn to interpret that poetry and engage in creative endeavour themselves.

The best superhero comics, in my mind, are not about invincible heroes but about vulnerable folk that are somewhat different: their ‘superpowers’ lie in their difference and in their ability to find solutions to problems for the betterment of their communities. (Think of Peter Parker, for example). There is a lot of doubt, anxiety and pain in the hero’s journey.

Peter Parker takes care of his aunt May after she suffers a heart attack. In Stan Lee (w), Steve Ditko (p), Sam Rosen (l), The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol 1, No. 17, October 1964.
Peter Parker cares for his aunt May after she suffers a heart attack. In Stan Lee (writer), Steve Ditko (artist), Sam Rosen (letterer), The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol 1, No. 17, October 1964. © Marvel Comics
 John Keats, by Joseph Severn, 1821-1823 - NPG 58 - © National Portrait Gallery, London
John Keats, by Joseph Severn, 1821-1823 – NPG 58 – © National Portrait Gallery, London

 

The caregiver-storytellers of Care’N’Share however do not see themselves as heroes, but what they do is heroic, it requires a sacrifice and a determination that is only possible when our deepest fears are defeated and our inner super powers come to the fore. I have the uttermost respect for dementia carers/caregivers. The stories they share are lessons to us all on our duty to our fellow human beings on how to empathise with what is often completely incomprehensible and find solutions that are respectful, loving and fair.

So it’s important to say that to me the beauty of ‘Graphic Medicine’ is that it’s not about idealisation or about fitting into generic narrative structures and archetypes. It’s about the personal journey, the vulnerabilities that make us human, and discovering the ways in which we can overcome serious challenges.

 

 

http://carenshare.city.ac.uk/

 

What have you learnt about dementia through your experience in creating Parables of Care?

EP: I am still learning a lot. The statistics alone provide sufficient evidence that dementia is one of the key public health and social challenges of today, not just in the UK but around the world. Working in this project required having an open mind about what we could achieve and be willing to accept that our contribution would be relativelly small but potentially impactful on some level.

To come back to my previous answer I think all of us working in the project learnt that a lot is achievable in terms of health care of incurable conditions if there is tolerance, empathy, creativity and imagination. In general working in adapting the stories forced us to attempt walking in the carers’ shoes. Susan Sontag wrote a beautiful book discussing the im-possibility of experiencing the pain of others through photography. I hope Parables of Care can contribute to share the experience of dementia care in a respectful and sensitive way.

Where else might comics be applied in healthcare? Where do you want to go next?

EP: Ah, that is the question! Short answer: almost everywhere. We believe that comics can be brilliant health information resources. And I think that Health Informatics and Graphic Medicine are a match made in heaven. We are already working on that next step. I am definitely interested in developing more work that explicitly connects the dots between graphic narrative and User-Centred Design and Interaction Design. I won’t say more for the time being. Watch this space!

Dr Abi Roper is a Research Fellow at City, University of London. She is a speech and language therapist and researcher passionate about technology use within atypical speech & language populations.

Parables of Care can be downloaded as a PDF file, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, from City Research Online: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/18245/.

If you live in the UK you can request printed copies at no cost here.

This post was originally published at the Parables of Care blog on 26 October 2017 at https://blogs.city.ac.uk/parablesofcare/2017/10/26/parables-of-care-a-qa-with-ernesto-priego/. If at some point in the future links to embedded media appear broken it is because the source post may have been changed location or is undergoing maintenance.

An Interview with Simon Grennan re: Parables of Care

I interviewed Simon Grennan last week for the Parables of Care blog, and I have copied and pasted the post here.

 

Dr Simon Grennan, University of Chester
Dr Simon Grennan, University of Chester

Dr Simon Grennan, is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Art and Design at the Department of Art and Design, University of Chester. He is an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, comics scholar and author of over 40 comics and artists’ books.

Simon worked in partnership with Dr Ernesto Priego of City, University of London, Dr Peter Wilkins of Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada and an NHS Trust, to produce Parables of Care.

We asked Simon some questions about working on Parables of Care.

What was your first impression of the Care’N’Share stories?

Simon Grennan: I was immediately fascinated by the combination of descriptions of emotional/physical challenges and the extreme brevity of the case studies. The stories told by carers already conformed to a rather strict pattern derived from a proforma, designed to enable speedy access to the information that each story provides, for readers. This might have denuded the case studies of their affective aspects, but in fact, it focused and intensified them. That was immediately striking and interesting.

 

http://carenshare.city.ac.uk/

 

What was the most challenging for you in the drawing process?


SG: The editorial task for Peter, Ernesto and I involved considering how this combination of emotional impact, information and brevity could be visualised. The concept of the parable offered an accurate description of the stories as told by carers: the original stories already had the effect of parables.

We lighted upon a key aspect of the parable – its function of representing big effects (issues, truths, significant ideas) by small means. This ‘big in small’ characteristic was actually quite easy to visualise, because there is a great range of visual models, particularly in the history and traditions of the comic strip: visual gags, for example.

We immediately thought of the four panel Japanese ‘yonkoma joke strips, which follow a set pattern for divisions of action. The form both produces and disperses ambiguity. That’s the way in which it works as a visual joke. Although the Care’N’Share stories aren’t jokes, by any means, part of their ‘parable’ character articulates exactly this manipulation of clarity and ambiguity. This seemed like a form particularly suited to these particular stories about dementia care, in which initial challenges to capacity, comprehension and communications are overcome by creative means.

In each story, there is a challenging scenario resulting from a specific experience of dementia, which is then reflected/acted up and finally resolved. For me, the task was then to visually articulate this balance of ambiguity and clarity in the narrative drawing, first creating a level of affective unclarity in the reader that I then develop and finally resolve.

As with visual jokes, creating the right affective balance between ambiguity and clarity is the main task. Too much ambiguity and the reader doesn’t know what’s happening. To much clarity and the reader has no emotional stake in the story. In both of these scenarios, the joke (or in this case, affect) disappears and the story fails.

I hope that I’ve managed to get the balance right! If so, each story should function as a parable, packing a lot of emotional punch (and taking the reader from ambiguity to clarity) with very few means.

 

 Dr Simon Grennan during one of the Parables of Care workshops, 22 March 2017, City, University of London
Dr Simon Grennan during one of the Parables of Care workshops, 22 March 2017, City, University of London

 

‘A Theory of Narrative Drawing’: what theoretical principles did you apply in Parables of Care?


That’s an interesting question. My new book A Theory of Narrative Drawing seeks to explain experiences of drawn stories, but it’s not quite a handbook for drawing stories! However, one of the interesting things about Parables of Care is its self-announcing, overt reliance upon the reader to articulate the visual story and the story world. Of course, the reader always undertakes this articulation, in every story.

However, in Parables of Care, this is entirely due to the creation of ambiguity in each story. These are stories where a reader feels that they can or are making mistaken readings or, if the stories don’t clarify themselves for some readers, they think that the stories are simply incoherent or/and badly told. It is only when a reader realises that ‘making mistakes’ is an affective substitute for aspects of the experiences of dementia that are told about in each story, for example, that the sensation of ambiguity is transformed, located and resolved. This is entirely the type of affective reading that A Theory of Narrative Drawing explains.

 

What are you hoping Parables of Care can achieve?


SG: I hope that Parables of Care will focus attention on the emotional aspects of dementia care. We have worked hard to introduce readers to the (largely non-clinical) experience of dementia care by providing them with affective sensations of ambiguity, including a sense of inexplicable altered capacity, frustration and maybe a sense of powerlessness. These sensations are turned around and articulated in each story, retaining the emotional intelligence and creativity of the resolutions to challenging situations. The reader goes throught this process too, and reaches a similar clarity and resolve.

Parables of Care can be downloaded as a PDF file, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, from City Research Online: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/18245/.

If you live in the UK you can request printed copies at no cost here.

This interview was originally published at https://blogs.city.ac.uk/parablesofcare/2017/10/12/parables-of-care-a-qa-with-simon-grennan/. If links to embedded media appear broken it is because the original post may have been changed or undergoing maintenance.

Parables of Care: A Comic About Dementia Care, Available for Free

Parables of Care unboxed

I am very pleased that Parables of Care. Creative Responses to Dementia Care, as Told by Carers is now available. It is a 16-page publication presenting true stories of creative responses to dementia care, as told by carers.

  • Parables of Care can be downloaded as a PDF file, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, from City Research Online: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/18245/.
  • If you live in the UK you can request printed copies at no cost here.

The stories were adapted from a group of over 100 case studies available at http://carenshare.city.ac.uk.

Parables of Care is a project of the Centre for Human Comuter Interaction Design, City, University of London, The University of Chester, UK, and Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada.

Parables of Care was edited and adapted by Dr Simon Grennan (University of Chester) Dr Ernesto Priego (City, University of London) and Dr Peter Wilkins (Douglas College).  Parables of Care was drawn by Dr Simon Grennan with Christopher Sperandio.

Research has shown that comics have the potential to have a positive impact on the health and quality of life of people who engage in comics reading and creation, contributing to transform attitudes, awareness and behaviour around illness and contributing to create new opportunities for empowerment and more positive behaviour (Cardiff University 2014). Parables of Care explores the potential of comics to enhance the impact of dementia care research in particular.

Parables of Care seeks to make a contribution to enhancing the public impact of the best practices in dementia care resulting from City HCID research by exploring and embracing the communicative affordances of graphic storytelling in general and graphic medicine in specific.

We hope that Parables of Care contributes to enabling stronger links between academia, dementia care practice and comics scholars and practitioners.

The response so far has been amazing. Read this review by John Freeman at the British Comics site Down the Tubes, published shortly after we announced the comic publicly.

Stay tuned for news regarding distribution points, events and more information about the project!

Parables of Care received funding from the MCSE School Impact Fund, City, University of London 2016-2017.