I am a trained nurse and even though I now work in health governance my role still brings me into close proximity with death and dying. I recently re-read a book about this topic which I had been very keen on in my early thirties but being in my early fifties now found some of veering off into the area of the so called ‘spirit world’ and predictions about what happens when a person has died quite unpalatable.
By chance I then received a link to this book. I am not a person to give up easily and I decided to order the book. I could not have been more pleased. The thing that appealed to me the most is how honest and down to earth this book is. The transcripts of interviews are short and easy to read and I think anyone reading this book should come away with a very good theoretical understanding on what life in a hospice is all about.
The book is very clearly structured into four main topic areas:
1. The work undertaken 2. Difficulties experienced and coping with them 3. Motivations and rewards 4. Reflections on working in a hospice
Whilst staff give their own opinions about what might happen when a person dies it is clearly identified as a personal opinion and there is a good balance of views. Thoroughly no nonsense and very well researched.
Reading this book has given me a lot of confidence that should I or anyone I care about need the services of a hospice, it would be a good place to be. It also has reminded me that a hospice fulfils a role in the last stages of a person’s life that at present no NHS hospital has the capacity to deliver. However, it has also given me a reminder that many issues hospice staff struggle with are very similar issues encountered by hospital staff. At first I felt a little deflated about this and then I remembered my Buddhist training and had to laugh at myself. There is no getting away from suffering – it’s the way we react to it that matters. And that brought me back neatly to the topic. There is no getting away from death – but thankfully there are hospices that make it more bearable. Thank you very writing a very good book Ann!
The author is not a health care professional, she has worked as a hospice volunteer many years ago. This left her with fascination around what makes people want to work there. The information was collected through 31 face to face interviews across multiple disciplines in two hospices. The book upholds the belief that the hospice movement is one of the greatest social innovations and success stories of the past century. We are reminded that the driving force behind the hospice movement and palliative care is to transform the experience of the dying, from the starting point that death is a natural part of life. I have worked for 30 years in both Higher Education and the NHS & now currently employed in a hospice. I find the content of this book refreshing on two counts. Firstly the staff statements & stories are uncluttered by theory. Secondly although each hospice is unique it is enlightening to find the principles of working on one, and the impact on the individuals involved are transferable. Principally caring for the dying is a privilege, challenging and emotionally demanding. The book has a wider readability than professionals it would be enlightening reading for anyone who wants to understand what makes hospices the success they undoubtedly are. Potential audiences would include members of the community at large, especially those who contribute their time & money to keep the door of the hospices open as well as people who sit on the Boards or Councils or help run the many charity shops. These are a difficult audience to reach as currently little is published in this field. I have no hesitation in recommending this book. After reading the book our cleaner said "this is just as it is".Life in a Hospice: Reflections on Caring for the Dying