Title: The Palliative Approach – A Resource for Healthcare Workers
Author: Erica Cameron – Taylor
Publisher: M&K Publishing, 2012
Reviewer: Carol Singleton, Queen’s nurse clinical project manager end of life care, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
What was it like?
This book aims to provide a “simple and commonsense introduction to the care of patients in the generalist setting for whom a palliative approach is deemed appropriate”, which it does achieve but for anybody looking for information and guidance specifically for the UK, it will not be found here.
There are 16 chapters covering a wide range of topics from what is palliative care, to care of the elderly and dementia, to organ failure and difficult discussions. There are five extended case studies in the appendix of the book, also shorter studies in various chapters and examples of how to approach communicating with patients or their families are provided. There is a list of further reading and references from within the text consisting of articles, books and one website and an index.
What were the highlights?
The chapters on malignancy and organ failure provide basic but useful explanations of various cancers and what care could be provided for patients presenting with these conditions.
Strengths & weaknesses:
The chapter on recognising and treating the dying patient provides some useful explanations on signs of dying and diagnosing dying but totally omits to mention the use of the Liverpool Care Pathway (or the local equivalent) but does talk about diversional therapists who are available in Australia and New Zealand but not in the UK.
Hospices are not mentioned other than to say where and when the modern hospice movement began and specialist palliative care nurses are not included as part of the discussion of the need for multidisciplinary care. There is one brief mention of living wills / advance care directives but only to say that they are being introduced in care facilities and no reference to the Gold Standards Framework or Preferred Priorities for Care.
Who should read it?
This is difficult to identify as in some ways the information provided is at a simple level but also uses more complex terminology, which may be more appropriate for healthcare professionals. The areas covered by this book are quite extensive but its failure to identify specific services and professionals available in the UK while discussing those only used in Australia, may mean that it fails to address the needs of the readers on both sides of the world.