Over the past thirty years, the way Americans experience death has been dramatically altered. The advent of medical technology capable of sustaining life without restoring health has changed where, when, and how we die. In this revelatory study, medical anthropologist Sharon R. Kaufman examines the powerful center of those changes: the hospital, where most Americans die today. She deftly links the experiences of patients and families, the work of hospital staff, and the ramifications of institutional bureaucracy to show the invisible power of the hospital system in shaping death and our individual experience of it. In doing so, Kaufman also speaks to the ways we understand what it means to be human and to be alive.
“An act of courage and a public service.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“This beautifully synthesized and disquieting account of how hospital patients die melds disciplined description with acute analysis, incorporating the voices of doctors, nurses, social workers, and patients in a provocative analysis of the modern American quest for a ‘good death.’”—Publishers Weekly
“Kaufman exposes the bureaucratic and ethical quandaries that hover over the modern deathbed.”—Psychology Today
“Kaufman’s analysis illuminates the complexity of the care of critically ill and dying patients [and] the ambiguity of slogans such as ‘death with dignity,’ ‘quality of life,’ and ‘stopping life support.’ . . . Thought-provoking reading for everyone contemplating the fate of us all.”—New EnglandJournal of Medicine
In the last fifteen years, the field of palliative care has experienced a surge in interest in spirituality as an important aspect of caring for seriously ill and dying patients. While spirituality has been generally recognized as an essential dimension of palliative care, uniformity of spiritual care practice has been lacking across health care settings due to factors like varying understandings and definitions of spirituality, lack of resources and practical tools, and limited professional education and training in spiritual care.
In order to address these shortcomings, more than forty spiritual and palliative care experts gathered for a national conference to discuss guidelines for incorporating spirituality into palliative care. Their consensus findings form the basis of Making Health Care Whole. This important new resource provides much-needed definitions and charts a common language for addressing spiritual care across the disciplines of medicine, nursing, social work, chaplaincy, psychology, and other groups. It presents models of spiritual care that are broad and inclusive, and provides tools for screening, assessment, care planning, and interventions. This book also advocates a team approach to spiritual care, and specifies the roles of each professional on the team.
Serving as both a scholarly review of the field as well as a practical resource with specific recommendations to improve spiritual care in clinical practice, Making Health Care Whole will benefit hospices and palliative care programs in hospitals, home care services, and long-term care services. It will also be a valuable addition to the curriculum at seminaries, schools of theology, and medical and nursing schools.
Compelling, timely, and essential reading for healthcare providers, Meaning in Suffering addresses the multiplicity of meanings suffering brings to all it touches: patients, families, health workers, and human science professionals. Examining suffering in writing that is both methodologically rigorous and accessible, the contributors preserve first-hand experiences using narrative ethnography, existential hermeneutics, hermeneutic phenomenology, and traditional ethnography. They offer nuanced insights into suffering as a human condition experienced by persons deserving of dignity, empathy, and understanding. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that understanding the suffering of the "other" reveals something vital about the moral courage required to heal—and stay humane—in the face of suffering.
Winner, Nursing Research Category, American Journal of Nursing
Hospices have played a critical role in transforming ideas about death and dying. Viewing death as a natural event, hospices seek to enable people approaching mortality to live as fully and painlessly as possible. Award-winning medical historian Emily K. Abel provides insight into several important issues surrounding the growth of hospice care. Using a unique set of records, Prelude to Hospice expands our understanding of the history of U.S. hospices. Compiled largely by Florence Wald, the founder of the first U.S. hospice, the records provide a detailed account of her experiences studying and caring for dying people and their families in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although Wald never published a report of her findings, she often presented her material informally. Like many others seeking to found new institutions, she believed she could garner support only by demonstrating that her facility would be superior in every respect to what currently existed. As a result, she generated inflated expectations about what a hospice could accomplish. Wald’s records enable us to glimpse the complexities of the work of tending to dying people.
Once defiant of death—or even in denial—many American families and health care professionals are embracing the notion that a life consumed by suffering may not be worth living. Sociologist Roi Livne documents the rise and effectiveness of hospice and palliative care, and the growing acceptance that less treatment may be better near the end of life.