2009; Volume 10, No 3, March

Roger Woodruff, MD


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Palliative Care Book of the Month and Book Reviews

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Palliative Care Book of the Month


Sarah Earle, Caroline Bartholomew and Carol Komaromy (Eds)

Sage Publications, The Open University, 2009
210 pp
ISBN 978-1-84787-512-9
RRP $AU 68.00, £19.99, $US 44.95.

Review copy supplied by Footprint Books www.footprint.com.au

This Anthology, together with the companion volume Death and Dying: A Reader form part of the Open University course Death and Dying which is offered as part of courses in Health Studies and Social Work.

The book has 83 ‘chapters’, divided into seven sections:

I. Visual images of death, dying and disposal;

II. Death and dying in poetry, fiction and the media;

III. Death, dying and bereavement on the worldwide web;

IV. Caring for people at the end of life;

V.  When someone dies;

VI. Reflecting on traumatic death, mass death and disaster;

VII.  Making sense of the after-life and life after death.

I thoroughly enjoyed dipping into this book which presents and impressive spectrum of material. My only complaint is that a list of the contributors, giving their backgrounds and affiliation, would have been interesting. I would certainly recommend this book (and the sister volume) to anyone involved with a course dealing with death, dying and bereavement.

Roger Woodruff
(February 2009)

Book Reviews


Sarah Earle, Carol Komaromy and Caroline Bartholomew (Eds)

Sage Publications, The Open University, 2009
276 pp
ISBN 978-1-84787-510-5
RRP $AU 71.00, £20.99, $US 44.95.

(Review copy supplied by Footprint Books www.footprint.com.au)

This Reader, together with the companion volume Making Sense of Death, Dying and Bereavement: An Anthology, form part of The Open University course on Death and Dying which is offered as part of courses in Health Studies and Social Work.

The book consists of 34 readings divided into five sections:

I. Understanding Death;

II. Caring at the end of life;

III. Moral and ethical dilemmas in practice;

IV. Exploring grief and ritual after death;

V. Researching death, dying and bereavement.

I think this book would be an excellent resource for anyone doing a course that deals with death, dying and bereavement.



New Perspectives on User Involvement

Lucinda Jarrett (ed.)

Radcliffe Publishing, 2007
ISBN 978-1-84619-158-9
RRP £21.95, $US 45.00

This book explores the links and similarities between engagement in creative activities as part of holistic palliative care and service user involvement, a thesis with which I am a little uncomfortable. There is no doubting the considerable benefits that creative activities can bring to the terminally ill and this book describes a range of imaginative activities, described by both the program directors and the service users. But I would see such activities as a highly desirable part of normal holistic palliative care that we provide for terminally ill patients. (Sorry! What we do is to enable the service users to help themselves.)

Service user involvement in palliative care can have many different faces. Support groups for patients and families are included, as is the use of patients in educating health care professionals. I have no problems with these, but service user involvement in deciding how a palliative care service should be run can hardly be considered a clinical necessity. But it is trendy and very politically correct. The chapters about setting up and running service user involvement programs of this type indicate that it can be a bit of a minefield, and anybody contemplating one would be advised to read this first.

This book contains a wealth of material about the person side of holistic palliative care, described by both patients and professionals. It is important that we strive to tailor our services to meet all the needs of our patients, but I’m not sure about having a committee of service users (who, by the way, are dying) telling me how I should run the program.



A Novel from the Hospice

Joe M. O’Connell

Dalton Publishing, 2007
182 pp
ISBN 978-0-9740703-8-4
RRP US13.95

Matt, a fledgling screenwriter, volunteers to work with the terminally ill whilst searching for a good plot for his next script.  He meets the people who work, die and mourn in the hospice and O’Connell has drawn some colourful and believable characters.  The material relating to the hospice and terminal care rings true, all the way to reconciliation and forgiving.  But much of the book is to do with what some of the characters got up to years earlier and they are not all together a very likeable bunch.

The idea of incorporating real-life terminal care in a novel has considerable appeal, and may be one more little step away from the death-denying mindset in our societies where the population is increasingly ageing. 


Roger Woodruff
(February 2009)

Note for authors: If you wish to have your book reviewed, please send to:

Dr Roger Woodruff
IAHPC Bookshop Editor
210 Burgundy St, Suite 9
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084

Note: Review copies become property of IAHPC and are not returned to the author. Only palliative care related books which are previously approved will be reviewed. Due to the large number of requests, we can't provide exact dates of when books will be reviewed.

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