Books reviewed by James Woodward

Ethical dilemmas

End-of-Life Care: Bridging Disability and Aging with Person centered CareEnd-of-Life Care: Bridging Disability and Aging with Person centered Care,
by William C. Gaventa & David L Coulter (Ed) (The Haworth Press) 2005, xvii + 121 pp, pbk, $19.95

This book features two primary papers on the controversial issue of end-of-life care within the disabled and ageing populations.  Each paper explains the range of issues involved in using person centred care.

Both papers (a father of a disabled son and a theologian living alongside his father’s Alzheimer’s disease) reflect on their particular experiences.  Responses from ‘experts’ in the field follow that raise further points to consider about policies, quality of life and consent.

Amongst the issues raised in this volume are: who, how and what grounds end-of-life decisions should be made; best practice; the pastoral challenges facing individuals; communications and the pastoral responses to the disabled and older people.

In the U.K. there has been much discussion about end-of-life issues particularly in Parliament.  Many claims have been made about public opinion and the debates have often been dominated and controlled by the medical profession.  This book and the interdisciplinary nature of its reflection encourage us to engage in a wider debate where experience in all its complexity can be attended to.  The voices in this book are both enlightening and disturbing.  It deserves to be widely read because it can resource wiser and better informed conversations.

James Woodward