Visually explaining palliative care
The Stratton Foundation
Health Communication Design
Thomas Jefferson University
︎︎︎ Creative direction
“Palliative care has a branding problem,” said Jeannette, my partner from the Jefferson School of Nursing. In our first meeting together she explained that in her research, most people equate palliative care with hospice care, but that she worked “upstream.” Her goal was to initiate conversations about quality of life well in advance of hospice. With a grant from the Stratton Foundation, Jeanette piloted a telehealth program with chronic lung disease patients to get them on the same page with their doctors, nurses, and caregivers. My task was to convey this idea in a patient-facing poster.
1. Sketching to understand the subject matter
I explored the concept of upstream health in a number of ways. I was especially interested in the various players (patients, caregivers, nurses, doctors) and how they come together. I initially thought of them like tributaries on a river.
2. Finding inspiration
The late Lanny Sommese created hopeful, whimsical posters including this 2020 poster for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
This poster from 1989 by Istvan Orosz prompted me to think of older patients looking forward to the future. What might they see?
3. Presenting visual directions
When Jeannette and I met again, I presented her with a series of sketches offering different directions for the poster. The third direction with bird imagery was the visual winner and we workshopped the copy to match.
4. Determining the correct medium
5. Integrating digital and analog
The birds flying together in a V-shape formation shows the team effort amongst patients and caregivers in a successful palliative care series. The italicized type indicates movement in what might have been a stuck process. The birds are flying towards a sunset, symbolizing something beautiful and transitory.