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.