Death, Dying and Bereavement: Issues for Practice

Death, Dying and Bereavement: Issues for Practice

Death, Dying and Bereavement: Issues for Practice

Death, Dying and Bereavement: Issues for Practice


In this book, Dr. Jacqueline Watts considers the social context of death and dying in the UK today, and the ways in which this influences service delivery. Care for the dying has become increasingly professionalized, with hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices now being the setting for most deaths. The provision of support for bereaved people has attracted greater attention, with a large increase in the number of trained bereavement counselors working in both charity and clinical settings. The theory and practice of palliative care, hospice development, and a range of grief models that assist in bereavement care, along with the challenges for care practitioners, form the core of the book. Its underpinning themes include diversity, communication, palliative care, meanings of spirituality, and support for bereaved people. These issues are discussed against the general background of health and social care policy, with a particular focus on the review of Scottish palliative care services published in 2008 for the Auditor General of Scotland. Death, Dying and Bereavement provides an excellent overview of palliative care provision and the issues involved for students, health care workers, social workers, managers, policy makers, and other practitioners who come into contact with death and dying in their practice.


In the words of this volume’s author, ‘death has become a behind-the-scenes activity’. the purpose of this contribution to the Policy and Practice in Health and Social Care series is therefore to put death and dying centre stage and to explore the ethical and practice dilemmas that arise as we strive to find an appropriate balance between the opportunities of medical advance and the ambitions to achieve, wherever possible, what could be defined as a ‘good death’. We are reminded also of the importance of recognising and responding to the needs of the bereaved, and of the role for counselling and mutual help groups.

Jackie Watts highlights the changing trends in both cause and place of death and illustrates the diversity of cultural and religious responses. She explores what is meant by palliative care and how it is being currently implemented both in Scotland and elsewhere. She outlines the development of hospice care from its traditional building-based model to the current focus on extending the hospice philosophy into care homes and into people’s own homes while addressing the need for greater diversity in the groups having access to palliative or hospice care. She also examines the interpretation of spiritual care, in its widest sense, and provides an understanding of the stages of grief and of the experience of mourning.

A focus of this volume is the identification of the key skills that can enhance practice. Critical is the need for good communication, both with the individual and family members and with the range of professionals involved. Multi-professional and multi-disciplinary contact needs to be of the highest order. Particularly important to health and social care practice is what can be termed disenfranchised grief, grief that may not be acknowledged or sanctioned. the hope is that this volume will go some way to encouraging a more open and differentiated response to a universal situation.

Dr Joyce Cavaye Faculty of Health and Social Care, the Open University in Scotland, Edinburgh

Professor Alison Petch Director, research in practicefor adults, Dartington Hall Trust, Totnes, Devon . . .

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