End of Life in Care Homes: A Palliative Care Approach

Book Cover - End of Life in Care HomesEdited by Jeanne Samson Katz and Sheila Peace.
Oxford University Press 
ISBN 0 19 851071 3

As I read this book I was reminded of a senior carer who recounted the pressures and complexities of the care task as she moved between a bedroom, where a man was dying, to the lounge where the other residents were celebrating the joys of the FA Cup. 

The main thrust of this book is that a palliative care approach can greatly improve the quality of dying in care homes.  

It provides an excellent review of policy developments and changes supplemented by data from two Open University studies (1995 and 1999) to emphasise the extent to which concentration on quality of life has overshadowed good practice in end-of-life care. 

The book contains considerable detail on the subject, with chapters on such themes as managing dying residents, the needs of relatives, the role of external health workers, and training for care staff. The notion of “a good death” is articulated and the principles that should underpin best practice are clearly set out. 

This book should be essential reading for all registered managers. I believe that, by giving much needed clarity to the subject, it could make a real difference to the care offered at the end of life. 

Des Kelly is consultant director in social care, BUPA Care Homes.

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