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Book club: your reviews

Living with Dying: Finding care and compassion at the end of life

24 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Living with Dying: Finding care and compassion at the end of life              

Author: Margaret McCartney        

Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd

Reviewer: Jane Brocksom, urology & continence nurse specialist, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

 What was it like?

This book has been a refreshing read, like a collection of interconnected essays or having a discussion with colleagues. I like her style of writing. It is questioning, humorous, personable and curiously makes you keep reading. I have not previously read the “Patient Paradox” Dr McCartney’s first book; she is a GP in Glasgow who is a well published author including BMJ plus her own blog and a speaker on Radio 4’s Inside Health. The 8 chapters are subdivided and make for compelling reading, in a sensible and thoughtful way. Dr McCartney’s argument is we need to start valuing a good death, as we live longer we have a desire to fight death at all costs and medicine may harm and non-medical interventions maybe more effective. (Vice versa?)The author also argues for more conversations around “Deathcare” particularly in term of hands on, human, holistic care. Death is an unpleasant part of an HCP’s role (and our personal life) but done well it can provide us/carers with a cathartic experience.

What were the highlights? 

The book is a revelation and a highlight throughout. Where is the balance of medicine between caring and curing? Has medicine got in the way of good care? Do we rely on technology rather than essential care? “When professionals go bad” (is a sub heading), which highlights the importance of caring for the carers, emphasis on a positive working environment and supportive network, often hard to provide in a healthcare culture of quantity over quality.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The interesting titles of the chapters include; - The modern death: Too many tablets: Caring not curing: The politics of death: War, Truth and Lies at the end of life. It’s difficult to halt curiosity and stop reading chapters with such titles and you are rewarded with balanced and thoughtful dialogue. The final chapter is “Things to think about” - if I’m honest I started doing this on page 1. I did send a tweet to Dr McCartney asking why the chapter was at the end of the book and not the beginning - she tweeted back “I think because the book is an argument for doing so, and thought a bit much at first” Thank you for tweeting back Dr McCartney.

Who should read it?

Any HCP who wants an articulate, challenging, uncomfortable yet exhilarating read, yes its in-depth but it packs a lot in for 212pages, I suspect the most likely to pick the book up will be HCP’s involved in death and dying - but it is for anyone involved in caring. Deathcare is the focus, but Margaret McCartney is arguing for a compassionate and humane approach - some may agree this is back to the essentials of care.

”To die a good death, we need unglamorous, humane, hands on care. This can never be replaced by computers or machines”

Finding the middle ground is as challenging and rewarding as this book…….

Living with Dying

Movies & Mental Illness (4th Edition): Using Films to Understand Psychopathology

23 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Movies & Mental Illness (4th Edition): Using Films to Understand Psychopathology

Authors: Danny Wedding and Ryan M Niemiec

Publisher: Hogrefe

Reviewer: Adam Fitzgerald, senior nurse practitioner

What was it like?

This book is written by two US psychologists whom use films to help explain and demonstrate psychopathology.

What were the highlights? 

The book is laid out in a number of easy to reference chapters and simple to read tables listing films that correlate to a specific psychological condition. It can easily be used or non health care professionals or those whom would like a slight introduction to mental health without having to digest numerous textbooks or like myself prefer a different way of learning.

Strengths & weaknesses:

As previously mentioned the book is broken into a number of easy to use chapters, hence if you wished to review some information on Personality Disorders you could turn to chapter 13 to which links into the film No Country for Old Men. Movies & Mental Illness then progresses to give you questions to consider while watching the film, followed by a systematic psychological evaluation of one of the characters including a proposed treatment plan. After this evaluation the book goes on to use the film as a basis of describing psychopathy and anti-social behaviour. This linear approach of allowing the reader to consider certain questions as a form of guided learning then tying that into a psychological assessment before analysing the character and tying it into the theory behind it. Along with this, at the end of each chapter, are further films and reading material that may prove to be helpful.

Considering the book is primarily aimed at the US market, the terminology appears to transfer well over to the UK reader. However the statistics are primarily US based.

In addition to the previous points the book has an extensive appendices, which catalogue further films with a brief evaluation other films that can be used to highlight conditions, a listing of the voted 50 top villains and heroes and an example syllabus that can be used with the book.

Who should read it?

This book has a large audience - it could capture ranging from lay persons wishing to gain an insight into mental health through an easily digestible format through to those formally teaching mental health courses.

Movies and mental health



Forensic Gynaecology

22 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Forensic Gynaecology

Editor: Maureen Dalton

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Reviewer: Martyn Tee

What was it like?

This is a text book covering the syllabi for various professional examinations including DFCASA, LFFLM, MFFLM(SOM) Part 2, and the RCOG ATSM in forensic gynaecology. The writers therefore presume a fair amount of prior knowledge as it is intended for those with advanced skills or those studying to acquire them. It is divided into chapters to allow the reader to expand their knowledge on specific topics, which may be relevant to them. There are a number of different contributors and each chapter has its own style, but the layout in general is easy to follow. Paragraphs are kept reasonably short and there are clear, bold headers which accurately describe the contents of the following paragraph. For those who prefer more visual representation, there are not many diagrams and no photographs. There is also no colour with all diagrams being represented in black, white or shades of grey. However I would urge you not to let this put you off as it is a compact, succinct yet comprehensive text.

What were the highlights? 

This book is an inclusive text, including insights into less well documented topics such as sexual assault in the elderly. Particularly useful are the chapters on statement writing and court room skills, which are often more foreign even to the experienced clinical practitioner. Especially interesting is the chapter on forensic science and the sexual assault examination kit.

Strengths & weaknesses:

This is a comprehensive text, precluding the need for accumulation of different books on different aspects of forensic gynaecology. The layout is clear, as is the language providing the reader has some background knowledge of forensics and gynaecology. It will be particularly useful for those preparing for the above examinations. It is disappointing not to see better use of images and particularly of colour. However it would be well suited for those keen on the use of highlighter pens.

Who should read it?

This book is aimed at doctors and nurses who work within forensics but also those working in gynaecology, sexual health, emergency medicine and for counsellors and psychologists who work with the victims of sexual assault.

Forensic Gynaecology

Live and laugh with Dementia: The essential guide to maximising quality of life

21 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Live and laugh with Dementia: The essential guide to maximising quality of life

Author:  Dr Lee-Fay Low

Publisher: Exisle

Reviewer: Jane Brocksom, urology & continence nurse specialist.  Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

 What was it like?

This is a readable and informative book, thankfully a great size for reading and hence sharing with colleagues. It is not a dry textbook or textbook size but an amazing inspiring manual of making life with dementia as positive as possible. It addresses carer’s attitudes as well as offering tips to allow HCP’s to have a positive impact on people living with dementia. An absorbing 200 pages and a powerful mixture of science and practical information.

What were the highlights? 

It is obvious right from the start that the author knows her field. She is a researcher – leading the first high-quality study of humour therapy for people with dementia and an academic. Currently she is the associate professor in ageing and health at University of Sydney. She writes with enthusiasm and insight. It’s a book full of wonderful gifts of knowledge.

The chapters include – an Introduction called Use it or Lose it: How dementia affects the way we think: Taking a history: Selecting and modifying activities: Cognitively stimulating activities: Reminiscence: Music and Play.

The book also has a comprehensive resources and references section. Assessment tools, life history worksheets and activity calendars also highlight the diverse nature of material included in this book.

Strengths & weaknesses?

This book is inspiring and motivating with excellent examples and case studies to highlight salient points. The case studies add to the text and give wonderful examples of activities for people with dementia based on their degree of illness, bringing the books readability and credibility to all levels of readers. There is plenty for HCP’s to reflect upon including information on how we present ourselves to those with dementia and how we come across both in verbal and non-verbal communication. The four people living with dementia presented in this book ensure the book is practically focused.

Who should read it?

Any HCP who cares for the elderly or individual with dementia and who wish to provide supportive and informed care, understand their patients and meet their holistic needs. Essentially focused on developing and delivering engaging and fun activities.

Live and laugh with Dementia


Mental Health Policy for Nurses

18 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Mental Health Policy for Nurses

Edited by: Hulatt, I

Publisher: SAGE

Reviewer: Evelyn Martin, senior lecturer,  West Virginia University - USA

What was it like?

This book presents a comprehensive overview on mental health policy and services in the UK. The authors present a general idea of Mental Health policy and services from an expert opinion against the backdrop of constant National Health Services policy changes, with regards to the future. Understanding policy in any nursing environment is vital. The overviews presented in this book demonstrate the importance of Mental Health Policy in Nursing, especially during a time of significant and tumultuous regulation.

I found the first chapter to be cumbersome and difficult to read – owning to the fact of not living in the UK, spelling, lack of commas, and extremely long sentences were difficult to grasp for someone learning policy from a foreign country for the first time. Policy is hard enough to read and understand, therefore such a strong beginning made it difficult to want to read more.

Once past that, the information presented the rest of the book was very informative, easy to read, and important for every nurse, whether student or experienced nurse to know and understand. This book covered community services, government involvement with tighter control, the care program approach, and the community mental health centres and teams. In addition, the authors discussed psychosis, aging and the elderly, the elderly in social isolation, dementia, and personality disorders. The authors touch on service users and carers’ involvement and the importance of humanizing care and promoting recovery through utilizing evidence-based practices and legal framework. There is a chapter on child mental health, as well as dual diagnosis. The concluding chapter simply covers putting policy into action, another valuable addition to this book.

What were the highlights? 

Each chapter provided its own flavour to the reader and provided various insights to the mental health policy and settings in the UK. Chapter five - Older People - was a great read and a real life picture of what working with the elderly is like. I especially liked the activities in this chapter and the fact that the author used examples from real life cases. Chapter four gave two important good cases in the UK as well, in their discussion of psychosis.

Strengths & weaknesses:

I found the chapter overviews helpful and the various authors a plus. The reflective activities will be valuable to the student in self-reflection, as we all tend to learn more once presented with a different view from our own and are made to reflect on that view. I loved the activities in chapter five and this chapter in general.

The only weakness I found was the first chapter by Nolan and that is was a difficult read.  The information in that chapter is valuable and necessary to set the stage for the rest of the book, but so very dry and difficult.

Who should read it?

Anyone working in nursing, from the student, the novice nurse, to the experienced nurse should read this book.  Policy makes us better nurses and helps guide our practice.

Mental Health Policy for Nurses

Physiotherapy in Respiratory and Cardiac Care: an evidence-based approach

17 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Physiotherapy in Respiratory and Cardiac Care: an evidence-based approach

Author: Alexander Hough

Publisher: Cenage Learning

Reviewer: Rebecca Myatt, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

What was it like?

This is an excellent book. It covers a wide range of cardio-respiratory conditions and discusses treatment of patients in different clinical settings such as critical care, the ward area and out-patient departments. It progresses in a logical format beginning with physiology and pathology, it has an in-depth patient assessment section, which would be useful to nurses practising advance assessment skills and a detailed discussion of specific respiratory and cardiac conditions. The focus of the second part of the book is aimed primarily at physiotherapists but it would be extremely relevant for nurses caring for patients with cardio-respiratory disorders.  The final section covers different groups of people who may require physiotherapy such as infants, children, and adults with specific conditions including a thoughtful section on palliative care.

There is also a useful online support resource to accompany the book which includes interactive learning tools such as an interactive book, self-test multiple choice and critical thinking questions as well as flashcards, appendices and references. This is accessed through an individual code. As well as a contents page for the written text, there is an online chapter guide to aid navigation. 

What were the highlights? 

The chapters are well laid out. As well as headings and subheadings to guide the reader there are regular case studies and clinical reasoning exercises to facilitate consolidation of the written material. There are also relevant practice tips to enable transfer of learning into the clinical environment. The text is interspersed with regular diagrams, x-rays and photographs to illustrate the points under discussion. At the end of each chapter is a list of recommended reading if further information is required. The book has an extremely in-depth evidence base but written in an easy-to-read style that is both engaging and informal. 

Strengths & weaknesses:

The author has achieved an incredible balance between academic rigour and accessibility, her considerable experience is evident throughout the text. Complex concepts are described in a clear, easy to read manner with illustrative techniques used to re-enforce the text and useful exercises included to consolidate learning.

Who should read it?

This book is aimed at undergraduate physiotherapy students but would be extremely useful for nurses at any level working in respiratory or cardiac care in a ward or in the critical care environment. 

Physiotherapy in Respiratory and Cardiac Care

Urinary and Fecal Incontinence: A training program for Children and Adolescents

16 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Urinary and Fecal Incontinence: A training program for Children and Adolescents

Authors: Monika Equit, Heike Sambach, Justine Niemczyk, Alexander von Gontard

Publisher: Hogrefe

Reviewer: Rebecca Myatt, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

What was it like?

This is a short but highly academic and well researched book. It is divided into two sections. The first covers the theoretical background and definitions of incontinence during childhood and adolescence, including diagnosis, assessment and treatment. This is a detailed analysis with a large reference base. The second section is a therapy manual, designed for professionals working with both children and their parents. This provides specific advice for conducting individual training sessions and covers issues such as defining the type of problem, goal setting, analysis and evaluation of bladder and bowel elimination disorders. There are comprehensive worksheets and step-by-step guidance for running teaching sessions, which are both detailed and informative.

What were the highlights? 

The section on conducting individual sessions was accessible and had many good ideas to engage the audience in discussion regarding their own problems as well as instructions on education about the causes of incontinence and strategies to overcome these issues. The text was complemented by illustrations of the worksheets used featuring a cartoon girl and boy as well as diagrams and charts. There is a CD-ROM included with the book that complements the bladder and bowel training program. This contains PDF files from which worksheets and materials can be printed.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Despite the bright, cartoon characters on the front cover this is a highly academic text. In the second section there are guidelines for running group sessions including suggestions on the type of language to use for the different ages of children involved. The book is extensively referenced throughout should further reading be required.

Who should read it?

Due to the academic nature of this piece of work it would be suitable for medical or senior nursing staff working with children and adolescents with urinary or fecal incontinence.

Urinary and Fecal Incontinence


Martini’s Atlas of the human body

15 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Martini’s Atlas of the human body

Author: Frederic H Martini

Publisher:  Pearson Benjamin Cummings

Reviewer: Helen Reeves, clinical nurse manager, St Giles Walsall Hospice

What was it like?

Martini’s Atlas of the human body is a textbook that details 194 anatomy photographs, 53 radiology scans and 21 embryology summaries. It is a colourful textbook that aims to supplement the anatomical illustrations in Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, 8TH Edition.

What were the highlights?

The extensive photographs and the excellent use of labels make this an easy textbook to use. Photographs and scans ranging from the brain to the mandible and maxillary bones and a frontal section through the face to shoulder and neck anterior view ensures that the reader is able to see the human body at many different angles, depths and sides. This helps to aid better understanding of the human body and how it works. The use of large images aims to enhance understanding and learning.

Strengths & weaknesses:

It is well set out and the photographs, scans and embryology summaries used are of a good size ensuring that structures are easy to visualize. The textbook contains photographs and scans of all the major body segments and bones, all of which are labelled clearly. While this is a beneficial textbook by itself in being able to identify different structures and parts of the human body to fully understand how each part works it may have been beneficial to have used this with the Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, 8TH Edition as advised by Frederic H Martini. This will however remain an excellent reference guide and a textbook that will be continued to be used when wanting to revisit the anatomy of the human body.

Who should read it? 

This textbook would be beneficial for any health professional that has a serious interest in anatomy. It is well placed for nurses, doctors and other health professionals with a keen interest in anatomy. This textbook would also be suitable for students who are studying anatomy and physiology.

Martinis Atlas of the human body

Designing mental health units for older people

14 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Designing mental health units for older people

Author: Marshall M

Publisher: The Publishing Bureau (Dementia Services Development Centre)

Reviewer: Ed Shields, nurse lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast

What was it like?

This book is produced by the Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling, and it succinctly informs readers of the benefits of dementia-friendly building design, both inside and out, along with practical advice on how to make the environment help meet the needs of older people. The book has a strong evidence base from a range of international experts, which makes it commanding. Indeed, the book argues that dementia-friendly design should be viewed as a non-pharmacological intervention for people with dementia. The book sets out the challenges commonly seen in this patient group, such as walking a lot, restlessness, agitation, aggression, becoming withdrawn and sleep difficulties. It reminds the reader of impairments in sight, hearing and disturbance in sleep and mood that need to be managed. The reader is also reminded of problems in relation to impaired memory, impaired learning, impaired reasoning, high levels of stress and perceptual problems.

It offers guidelines on use of overall layout, floor colour and texture, the colour of skirting, walls and handrails, ceilings and doors, lighting and sound absorption. Also offers guidance on key features of specific rooms. For instance, modern taps on a wash basin may look nice but will almost certainly confound a confused person. Chairs that are a completely different colour to the floor and walls may be more easily identified by a person with perceptual problems. Many people may feel they know these things intuitively but this book may challenge that assumption.

What were the highlights? 

Throughout the book, high quality photographs are used extensively to illustrate good and poor design and use of space. They often convey the point effectively and easily.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The book is written in clear terms, with a total absence of technical language and jargon. It is, therefore, easy to read and delivers its guidelines simply and clearly.  Non nursing and medical staff could use the book usefully.

Who should read it? 

The writers suggest that the guidelines are for: planners and commissioners of new mental health units, architects designing new units, procurement staff, staff responsible for refurbishments, clinical staff who can make modifications to their units and technical staff who maintain units. Apart from these people, clinical staff, who work regularly with this patient group, should also know of these guidelines, thus enabling them to act as advocates when dealing with planners, managers and designers. I would suggest, also, that any staff working with this patient group would gain extra insights into the needs of older people with mental health problems.


Designing mental health units for older people

Prioritization, Delegation and Assignment

11 September, 2015 Posted by: -

Title: Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment

Authors: Linda A LaCharity, Candice K Kumagai, Barbara Bartz

Publisher: Elsevier Press

Reviewer: Anne Duell, registered general nurse, Birmingham Community NHS Trust

What was it like?

La Charity et al’s book is an interactive resource, which supports healthcare staff to understand the need to appropriately prioritize and delegate some of the tasks that they encounter on a daily baisis. 

The book is designed to cover events, which occur in routine nursing environments while expanding to cover more complex health events. Each section has been broken down into logical sections eg: musculoskeletal problems, respiratory problems or cardiovascular concerns. In each of these the reader is presented with a simply presented scenario that requires the nurse to consider the most appropriate way to delegate care to meet needs in a time effective manner. The scenarios range in degreee of complexity requiring the individual to deliberate about the required skills and mangement required for the task at hand. At the end of the book the proposed answers to each scenario are given to facilitate reflection for the decision maker to consider.

What were the highlights? 

The highlights to this book comes primarily through its desired outcome. There are only a small amount of books, which are totally scenario based that challenge nursing staff to use an evidence base when considering their rationalle when delegating care and tasks to other staff. The introduction of patient specific scenarios are a further highlight since it keeps the execrises relevant to events that are prevalent to nursing care.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The strengths of this book come from its layout and clear simply written scenarios. The design of this book means it could easily be employed in a clinical supervison session; encouraging nursing staff/shift leaders to discuss the proposed scenario and using a relevant evidence base can discuss how they can achieve the optimal outcome with the various skills mix to hand. The only weakness is some of the terminology employed since this book is written with the American nursing environment in mind. Despite this is is certainly a great resource for use in any healthcare setting.

Who should read it? 

This book should be considered for reading in any nursing environment, incorporating hospital and community homes where an inidiviual is cared for by a range of health care staff. It should be read by learning and develpment departments where they suport nursing staff with clinincal decision making. I would further recommend it to be used on a ward level where nurses/shift leaders could review scenarios and discuss potential interventions.  Mentors also could benefit from this resource when they have management students with them as an aid to introduce the complexities and challenges in managing patient needs with the available skills mix.

Prioritization, Delegation and Assignment

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