Jonas Center Supports Visionary Project Bringing New Light to End-of-Life Issues
‘Dying in America,’ by award-winning photographer/filmmaker Carolyn Jones and sponsored by the Jonas Center, launches website with resources for patients, families ahead of feature film
NEW YORK, November 2, 2015 – Dying in America, a multimedia exploration of death and dying by award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker Carolyn Jones, launches today as a website exploring end-of-life issues through the eyes of nurses who work specifically in palliative care. Supported by a grant from the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, the website is the first phase of the project, which will culminate in a feature length documentary that will seek to change the way Americans confront death.
Jones selected 50 nurses who help their patients face this stage of life daily and, as a result, have learned countless lessons from their work. As Jones explains, “It is through their eyes that we can best learn how we live and how we die.” Developed with the support of a $150,000 grant from the Jonas Center and launched today to coincide with National Hospice and Palliative Care month, the site offers an intimate look into end-of-life issues and questions. Based on extensive research and nurse interviews, the site provides visitors straightforward, compassionate guidance on such topics as guilt, pain, opiates and advanced directives via storytelling. The website also offers carefully curated tools, resources and links to learn more.
“We talk a lot about how nurses are the first point-of-contact in almost all healthcare settings, but they’re often the last point-of-contact as well,” says Darlene Curley, executive director of the Jonas Center. “Nurses have unique insight into the lives of their patients, especially during end-of-life care, treating the patient both physically and emotionally. Their vision for improving upon this type of care is invaluable. The Jonas Center is proud to support Carolyn Jones and this important work.”
The second phase of the project, a feature length documentary, will involve three of the 50 nurses featured on the site. Jones and her team will continue learning more about the nurses’ lives and work while following their patients through end-of-life journeys. The film is slated to be finished by in late 2016.
“None of us are born knowing how to die and it seems to me, we aren’t doing it right,” says Jones. “One of the things I hope to achieve with this project is to normalize the conversation about death so that we can take a step back and dispel some of the myths surrounding it. Nurses can best guide us down this road. By sharing their stories, we hope to come to a better understanding about death and dying in America while helping people gain control over their own mortality, and ultimately – the way they live.”
According to Jones, her interviews with nurses about end-of-life care can help shift perspectives on this stage of life. “Death is not a completely dark topic. The stories nurses share about their experiences illustrate that it can be beautiful, even funny,” she says. Technology has enabled us to push our last days to new limits, but when we accept the end of our lives, we realize that death can be about choice – free will to decide how our last days or months are to be lived, how we view our past and how we look at the present moment.”
Best known for her socially thought-provoking photographs and documentary films, Jones uses a variety of media tools to create projects that steer attention towards issues of global concern. She is passionate about personal stories and their power to connect people. Her most recent achievement, The American Nurse Project, aims to elevate the voice of nurses in America by capturing their personal stories through photography and film. Dying in America, Jones says, is a project that she has long been inspired to pursue – an idea seeded in the 1980s when she watched as a friend passed away from HIV/AIDS. Her interest was further fueled by her own battle with breast cancer. But it was her experience diving into the nursing world that became the driving force for Dying in America.
“When I decided to do this project, the first place I turned to was the Jonas Center. I have been so inspired by Barbara and Donald Jonas – from their work with veterans to their Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholars program.” Jones continues, “They support and celebrate nurses in a similar way that I do, and I feel aligned with their mission. I am eternally grateful not just for their generosity in supporting this project, but also for the work that they do every day.”
Please visit the new Dying in America website at: www.dyinginamerica.org.
About the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare
The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, established in 2006 by Barbara and Donald Jonas, is dedicated to improving healthcare by advancing nursing scholarship, leadership and innovation. Its two main programs are the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, which aims to address the dire shortage of nursing faculty by preparing nurses with doctoral degrees to step into this critical role, and the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program, which seeks to improve the health of veterans by supporting doctoral-level nursing candidates committed to advancing veterans’ healthcare. These programs have supported more than 600 doctoral scholars nationwide. The Jonas Center’s goal is to support 1,000 Scholars by 2016.
About Carolyn Jones
Carolyn Jones is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker who specializes in telling stories that shed light on issues of global concern. Her first book, Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS, was published by Abbeville Press and accompanied by shows in Tokyo, Berlin, the USA, and at the United Nations World AIDS Conference. She directed a television series for Oxygen Media called Womenshands as well as Women… on Family, a program for PBS. Carolyn founded the non-profit 100 People Foundation which creates educational films and curricula for school children worldwide. She has spent the last two years interviewing nurses from all over the country for the book and documentary film: The American Nurse. For more information about Carolyn and Dying in America, visit www.carolynjones.com and www.dyinginamerica.org.