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Book club: your reviews

Managing Breathlessness in the community

3 December, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Managing Breathlessness in the community

Authors: Janelle Yorke and June Roberts

Publisher: M&K Publishing 

Reviewer: Louise Goodyear, 3rd Year Adult Student Nurse

What was it like?

As the title states this book looks at breathlessness in the community setting and how healthcare practitioners can support patients in their own homes effectively. Each chapter breaks down specific areas of dyspnoea, allowing the reader to either ingest the whole book, or pick certain areas or themes per chapter to read.

I particularly enjoyed chapters two and three. As a student nurse I personally found these chapters easy to read, understand and then put into practice once on placement. Chapter two explains the mechanics of breathlessness and how different states of dyspnoea can be identified. Chapter three looks into the assessment of the patient. There are useful tables that are easy to read and understand even by a student, and also the signs and symptoms to look out for, which I found useful.

What were the highlights? 

Further through the book the authors look into particular diseases such as COPD, coronary heart failure and pulmonary hypertension and how such diseases present in the community in regards to the breathlessness of the patient.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Each chapter has reflection prompts enabling the reader to think about a scenario, or event and how they would manage the patient in that particular circumstance. I enjoyed the psychological strategies of managing the breathlessness, looking at the patient holistically, as this enables the practitioner to look at cognitive behavioural therapies and also mindfulness, to support them in their own homes.

Who should read it?

I would recommend this book in particular to student nurses years 2 and 3 who have placements in the community setting. Also nurses, physiotherapists and also occupational therapist, which support patients in the community.

Managing Breathlessness in the community

Comments (1)


2 December, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Ageing

Author: Chris Phillipson

Publisher: Polity Press

Reviewer: Carol Singleton, Queen’s Nurse, North Tyneside

What was it like?

The key question covered by this book is “how can social science contribute in helping us to think about the possibilities and potential behind the development of ageing populations?”

Presented in a clear, well thought out, logical manner this book takes the reader through the numerous issues and debates faced by ageing populations and the consequences to the rest of society.

What were the highlights? 

Written by a sociologist, one of our most prominent authorities on ageing, this book provides a comprehensive and insightful overview of the key debates in the field.

Strengths & weaknesses:

There are three main sections, firstly “Demographic and Social Dimensions of Ageing”, secondly “Inequalities and Divisions in Later Life” and thirdly “New Pathways for Later Life”. The first section sets out the context for understanding ageing populations while the second reviews examples of changes affecting this population and the third examines proposals for change in a number of key areas, including work, education and social relationships.

There is a comprehensive index allowing you to search under either author or subject.

The references are listed in alphabetical order at the back of the book by author, with a mixture of articles, books and publications from organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society, The Gerontologist, Welfare Reform and the Department for Work and Pensions. Personally I prefer references to be listed at the end of each chapter so that you don’t have to stop what you are reading to find the reference or note that you need to find it at a later date.

There is a short section on “Notes”. Not all of the chapters have notes and it seems to provide further explanations of terms e.g. pensions or median age or where to find further information on a subject.

Who should read it?

People interested in social science, students and scholars working in sociology, social policy and wider social science disciplines and the humanities.



How Your Doctor Sees You

18 November, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: How Your Doctor Sees You

Author: Robert Angus

Publisher: Farthings Publishing

Reviewer: Jade Day, 1st Year Adult Nursing student at Anglia Ruskin

What was it like

This book is a brilliant showcase of all the different types of scans and imaging healthcare professionals use when dealing with patients. All the images are clear and both normal and abnormal images are displayed in order to demonstrate the differences there are after injury and there are a wide range of common injuries to look at.

Though the author states at the beginning of the book it is not meant as a learning tool for students, personally I found it to be exactly that. It is extremely informative, uses clear explanations when medical terminology is included and all the images are labelled clearly for anybody to be able to understand positioning. I found this great as a revision tool for my anatomy and physiology as it demonstrates exactly where organs/bones are and names them clearly.

All the different types of imaging are explained clearly at the start of the book, so the reader is aware of the differences in what they are looking at and I found it fascinating from start to finish.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Clear imaging is used throughout the book, clear explanations are given at every stage, the body is visited in sections so you can look at one area at a time and the language used throughout is relatable to anyone, not just those in the medical field.

Quite a large heavy book and slightly repetitive in images used at times.

Who should read it

Any kind of student in the medical/nursing field, those already qualified, anyone interested in seeing medical images and having an explanation if they have had an injury in the past, anyone working with this equipment that wants to show off the things they get to see on a normal work day.

How Your Doctor Sees You

Stories from the War Hospital

17 November, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Stories from the War Hospital

Author: Richard Wilcocks

Publisher: Meerkat Publications Ltd

Reviewer: Carol Singleton Queen’s Nurse, North Tyneside.

What was it like?

This book was the result of a project started in 2012 by four members of the Headingley LitFest team who talked to people with a strong interest in local history and the organisers of “Legacies of War” at the University of Leeds before deciding to focus on Beckett Park, a significant part of the community. A grant from ”All Our Stories” at the Heritage Lottery Fund provided the means to start the extensive research in various archives in Leeds, Salford and London but also enabling visits to be made to the descendants of patients and staff involved in this fascinating building.

What were the highlights? 

I carried out my nurse training in Leeds at Leeds General Infirmary, more than sixty years after the time described in this book but I found it a fascinating read, especially the chapter on “Doctors and Surgeons”, which mentioned people such as Harry Littlewood and Lord Moynihan whose bust remains to this day, on the staircase in Leeds General Infirmary.

There is an interesting chapter on “Wartime diseases and infections” that describes the various conditions and how they were treated, and another on “shell shock”, part of our cultural language throughout the 20th century.

Strengths & weaknesses:

At the back of the book there is a list of the sources used for the book, a bibliography and useful list of online sources for both this country and further afield.

Who should read it?

The material in this book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the First World War in Leeds and in the whole country and even though it is primarily written about Beckett Park, it should be of interest to anybody wanting to learn more about this important part of our history, how hospitals were run and clinical care was carried out.Stories

Patient – The true story of a rare illness

17 November, 2014 Posted by: -

Title:   Patient – The true story of a rare illness

Author: Ben Watt

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Reviewer: Debbie Quinn QN, MS Specialist Nurse. Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS foundation Trust and Nurse Advisor MS Trust

What was it like?

The author Ben is a member of the pop group Everything but the Girl. This is a personal account of his journey through illness, hospitalisation, diagnosis and learning to adapt to life with a rare illness.

What were the highlights? 

The book offers readers the opportunity to share Ben’s experience, in his own words. In parts it really highlights the genuine fear and terror of what is happening to him. The trauma and worry of the family is also well documented. The final chapter captures how life can continue with a life long illness albeit with lifestyle adaptations. In fact Ben details how he goes back on tour with his wife following the long recovery.

Strengths & weaknesses:

In parts I found the book confusing – maybe because of the personal account element. Language in places could be found quite offensive by many. You really need to understand that this is a patients’ account of his journey and in places may not always be factual. I would suggest it has probably been cathartic to write and while useful is not necessarily something that many healthcare professionals would find beneficial to their role.

Who should read it?

I would suggest others with long term complex health conditions requiring hospitalisation may find it beneficial, or those with rare conditions would understand the complexity around diagnosis. Healthcare professional with an interest in either of these areas may also benefit from the book.

Patient - the true story of a rare illness

Noncommunicable Diseases in the Developing World: Addressing Gaps in Global Policy and Research

11 November, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Noncommunicable Diseases in the Developing World: Addressing Gaps in Global Policy and Research

Edited by: Louis Galambos and Jeffrey L Sturchio

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Reviewer: Rebecca Myatt

What was it like?

Chronic and non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, are a rapidly growing contributor to death and disability worldwide. It is estimated that in 2010 alone over 44 million deaths were attributable to these factors, 80% of which were in low and middle income countries. 

This small but powerful book written by the non-communicable disease working group, considers the background behind these stark statistics and offers insight into how the problems can be addressed. Discussion includes how we can learn from the successes of the fight against malaria, HIV and TB in the developing world and the success of local policies such as health initiatives in New York.

The chapters are in the form of essays, which cover areas such as creating a global regulatory framework to improve access to essential medicines and treatment, as well as understanding and overcoming the structural obstacles to this, learning from the success of the campaign for treatment of the HIV epidemic and involving the pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies to help improve patient compliance.

The role of prevention, early diagnosis and treatment in primary care, and the financial constraints on these, is considered in a later chapter along with discussion on the importance of putting political mandates into practical actions.

The burden of non-communicable diseases is staggering, and the final chapter draws together the preceding themes, and considers the implications of improved collaboration and co-ordination to enable policy innovation, for the betterment of all society.

What were the highlights? 

Although this is an academic subject, the book is extremely well presented and straightforward to read. The chapters are structured, leading the reader through the important concepts and offering suggestions for action.  It is well written and accessible to those with an interest in this field.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Data presentation is extremely clear, with graphs, tables and case studies used to highlight important points within the text. Each chapter is has a detailed reference list at the end to enable further reading.

Who should read it?

This book would be relevant to any nurse with an academic interest in global health issues and politics, as well as those with a specific interest in overseas health policy, or those considering work in developing countries.


Noncommunicable Diseases in the Developing World: Addressing Gaps in Global Policy and Research

Engaging People in Service Development

10 November, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Engaging People in Service Development

Author: Brian Dolan

Publisher: Fink in Organisations

Reviewer: Anne Olaitan, community matron, South East London

What was it like?

FINK  is a  publication, which is aimed at supporting service employers with effective communication. The authors have backgrounds in life coaching, yet the topics and strategies around communication can be applied to any service setting. The content is presented on a series of cards that are colour coded according to the area of communication being explored. Each card has a statement about effective working from either a personal or service perspective. The first three cards offer tips on how to use the framework. 

What were the highlights?

The pack covers the following areas: Patient Safety, Improving Patient Experience, Skills Prompt, Staff Well-being and  Efficiency and Effectiveness.  All of these areas appear to match the philosophy of NHS initiatives, such as benchmarking and patient experience. I found this format a manageable read as it condenses large chunks of information into bite-size pieces and is portable and versatile which allows choice on whether to cover an area or a single quote.

However, the section on skills prompt is brief in comparison to the other sections. Yet the focus on how to overcome barriers in communication and detailed examples can add to a person’s existing knowledge around this subject. The pack contains tools on common mistakes, which are found to be made during 1-1 interactions, can help to place emphasis on continued reflection on one’s own communication style.

A particular highlight was the Improving staff and well-being section, a useful and relevant source of information for today’s challenging work environments.  I thought this section instilled a sense of personal responsibility which added credence to the  term ‘everybody counts’ and links any changes to positive patient outcomes.

Strengths & weaknesses:

A Strength is that this format encourages someone to use a spontaneous approach without the need for an index. The advantages are the durability of the cards as opposed to paper, very clear colourful graphics and information.

Who should read it?

As all service employers are responsible for quality and outcomes within the NHS, I would recommend these cards to every person who works for the NHS, such as administration and reception staff, students, medical staff and all nursing staff. Furthermore the cards can service as format for team building exercises.

Engaging People in Service Development

End of Life Care a Guide for Therapists, Artists and Art Therapists

5 November, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: End of Life Care a Guide for Therapists, Artists and Art Therapists

Authors: Nigel Hartley

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley 2014

Reviewer: Robert Becker, independent lecturer in Palliative Care

What was it like?

This is a book that focuses on the creative arts and their use in multiple end of life care settings. It offers a comprehensive guide to the many current challenges of providing a service in this much undervalued area of care and along the way dispels many of the stereotypes and misconceptions often held by other professionals about what it is that Art Therapists actually do. It is divided into three parts with part one examining the current political and economic climate, with parts two and three looking at teamwork and communication and the use of research and personal professional development.

What were the highlights?

I particularly liked part one and for those of us with little or no knowledge of the background to palliative care development in the UK and beyond it offers a succinct and well written account. It’s a challenging text and rightly so, pulling no punches with regard to the testing professional climate we all work in, yet is written in a fluent accessible style with real compassion and a sensitive insight into the personal nature of the work itself. 

There are multiple short case studies used throughout the text to good effect with a sparing use of graphics and references are cited at the end of each chapter. The author also brings in the lived experience of a number of therapists to the text which gives it a credibility and realism that other more academic books often lack.  

I’m a big fan of the use of the creative arts and have witnessed many times a skilled therapist facilitating the highly personal story telling that is such a core part of so much of what good palliative care is all about. The need to tell our story in whatever way we can is part of being human and Nigel Hartley demonstrates with great wisdom, sometimes humour and always respect and dignity, just how powerful and important this role is.

Strengths & weaknesses:

There are no real weaknesses in this book per se and it does exactly as it sets out to do with no pretentions. Perhaps a note of caution here is warranted for some readers. This is not a “how to do it” book for amateur therapists who may think that facilitating such work is straightforward and can be done on the cheap by any aspiring professional with a musical or artistic flair. This book sets the case, quite rightly for a well funded and professional service that is integral to end of life care wherever it takes place and is a valuable addition to limited literature available in this area.

Who should read it?

In truth this is not a book that nurses will potentially read as it is aimed squarely at existing therapists and those wanting to enter the field. In that regard it does an excellent job and is to be recommended.

End of life care

All patients great and small. Tales of a rural district nurse

4 November, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: All patients great and small. Tales of a rural district nurse

 Author: Zoe C Lloyd

 Publisher: Balboa Press. A division of Ha House.

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

What was it like?

All patients great and small, tales of a rural district nurse is a biography that looks at the tales of modern life district nurse. The book looks at the tales of 13 patients that the author has encountered and what each patient has taught her. 

What were the highlights?

The honest nature of this book and the storytelling of the author enthrall the reader in wanting to know more. It highlights the complex and often challenging circumstances that district nurses work under and the different patients that they encounter on a day to day basis. The vast array of patients documented and the stories that they have to tell are a joy to read and remind us how unique each and every person is and how important it is to treat each person individually. The book also highlights beautifully the sometimes not so pleasant nature of a nurses job, when faced with prejudice or with patients who are less than welcoming. Zoe approaches these issues with tact and demonstrates how each situation was handled.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Each patient story transports you into the day to day life of a district nurse. The honest, funny and sometimes upsetting accounts make you appreciate that nursing is not always about what we have trained for but sometimes the unexpected, the herding in of sheep after breaking the news that a relative has suddenly died. It highlights beautifully the challenges that district nurses encounter and the unpredictable nature of their jobs and the patients that they care for. The relaxed writing style and reflective accounts make you feel that you know each patient.

Who should read it?

This book would be good for nurses considering a change into district nursing. While this is a book that looks at the modern day life as district nurse this book would be appropriate for anyone. It is a great read that reminds us all of the unique nature of life and the people that we encounter on a day to day basis and the stories that they have to share. 


All patients great and small. Tales of a rural district nurse



Heroic Measures

23 October, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Heroic Measures

Author: Jo-Ann Power

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Reviewer: Paul Watson, head of child development and PSHE, Marshland High School

What was it like?

Jo-Ann Power has written a book of fiction honouring those who have served their country in war. She concentrates on a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured. We are told the story of nurse Gwen Spencer, an orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt. We learn that Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making. Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos we hear how she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with. But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?

What were the highlights? 

I have to confess that I was not able to get past the first chapter. I am not a great fan of fiction and certainly not this type of book. I did however pass it on to my wife who picked it up and read the lot. The review that I now give is as a response to her comments and thoughts about the book; “The story was interesting and exciting with twists and plots that kept the attention. A romantic story that developed from a situation, like many other young people’s lives. This story takes and exciting ride, however, when Gwen bravely pushes up to the front line and falls in love. A good read” (so my wife said).

Strengths & weaknesses:

I struggled to get going at all and had to put it down. The sentence construction was poor and the plot was slow to get going. The overall story was not one that could hold my attention and this was not helped, in my opinion, by the disjointed construction and lack of connectives. My wife, on the other hand, highlighted that the further in to the book she got the better all of this became, with the fluidity of the book becoming much more harmonious with the increasingly exciting story line.

Who should read it?

If you are a fan of “Chick Flicks” or “Romance Novels” then this is for you. I am a man about to turn 40 and was not able to get into this book, my 16yr old daughter was utterly frustrated by the beginning of the book, with characters and details that just managed to confuse. My wife though, thought that this was an interesting read, and as such has now taken ownership of the book. I am sure that there are many well discerning women (and men) like my wife who will thoroughly enjoy this book.

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