IAHPC Book of the Month and Other Reviews
By Dr. Roger Woodruff
Palliative Care Book of the Month
CARE OF THE DYING. 2e
A Pathway To Excellence
John Ellershaw and Susie Wilkinson (Eds)
Oxford University Press, 2011
RRP £27.99 $US55.00
The Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP) aims to translate the excellent model of hospice for the dying into other health care settings and to develop outcome measures using an integrated care pathway for the last hours or days of life. Published eight years after the first edition, this volume includes the latest version of the Pathway (v.12), together with a description of all the factors that have led to change and refinement. Now acknowledged as a best practice model in the NHS (and admired in many countries outside the UK), the LCP provides a sound basis for health care professionals called upon to care for patients who are dying. It also provides health care managers and their overseeing bureaucrats with a measureable plan of care. As with any care pathway, it does not replace clinical judgment. Appropriately applied and correctly used the LCP provides sound care for the dying. Criticisms I have read most probably relate to its inappropriate application or where the professionals involved can only see death as a medical failure.
As with the first edition, the book deserves to be widely read. It will be a reminder to those who work in palliative care. It will be a wake-up call to those who do not work in palliative care but regularly deal with death and dying. And that applies to managers and health care bureaucrats as well. John Ellershaw and his team should be congratulated for their innovative and continuing contribution to the health care of the dying.
DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS
On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of course causes consternation among politicians, bureaucrats, religious leaders, health care workers and, of course, those employed in the funeral industry. As the continuing chaos turns to crisis, Saramago takes a swipe at those with power and influence, narrated in the first person plural that some say represents the voice of the village proletariat. The digs he has are both humorous and ring true. Meanwhile, death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates the results of her experiment.
Written by the Portuguese Nobel Laureate, I found this book an amusing aside on what we deal with every day and think it will be enjoyed by people who work in palliative care. Go on, treat yourself!
Hope and Encouragement in the Face of Serious Illness
Pamela Tucker Burton
Wine Press Publishing, 2011
RRP $US14.99 £11.99
The Tucker clan had the misfortune of losing several family members to cancer in a relatively short time. Then Burton’s 36 year old nephew is dying of lung cancer. This is the story of how his family reacted and pulled together during his last few days.
For people faced with a similar situation, this book will provide some support and encouragement, though it is written with a very strong Christian vein. It’s about families and spiritual care, specifically religious care. For people who work in palliative care, it is always instructive to read how things are seen from the relatives’ point of view. I liked the folk in the Tucker family. And having visited the MD Anderson on a few occasions many years ago, reading about the Palliative Care Unit of the MD Anderson Cancer Center is testimony to the advances that palliative care has made over the last 20-30 years.
Roger Woodruff, MD (Australia)
Dr. Woodruff is a Lifetime Member of the IAHPC Board and Past Chair. His bio may be found at http://www.hospicecare.com/Bio/r_woodruff.htm
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