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ss triple helix - summer 2001,  Comfort and Care in Final Illness (Book Review)

Comfort and Care in Final Illness (Book Review)

Comfort and Care in Final Illness - June Kolf - Sheldon Press 2000 - £6.99 Pb 128pp - ISBN 0 85969 833 5

June Kolf has had a great deal of experience of caring for terminally ill people. She was a hospice volunteer and bereavement counsellor in California, and has been involved in caring for dying relatives. Out of this experience she has compiled a helpful guide to comfort and caring for people who have reached an incurable stage of illness.

The book is divided into a section for the patient and another for the carer. Mrs Kolf covers physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the patient's experience; the carer's role, communication issues, making final arrangements and death itself. There is a good section on spiritual care. The writer speaks naturally of the benefits many find from prayer, the importance of forgiveness and forgiving, and of peace with God. Her writing is practical and readable. She concludes with lists of helpful addresses and of appropriate further reading.

Originally written for an American readership, the book has been well adapted for British readers although there are still some Americanisms (What is the 'proverbial dropping of the second shoe'? - p9) Some of the references to home-hospice and hospice volunteers are truer of the American scene than of the British. She seems not to know that UK hospices do not charge fees (unlike America - p19).

Mrs Kolf provides excellent ideas and up-to-date suggestions (see her comments on the cordless phone and e-mail - p40) and much comes from her own memories of caring. I found the directive nature of her advice rather irritating after a while. 'Do not fight your pain, but do not suffer in silence either. Let your carer ... know you hurt.... Strive to get the greatest relief... Experiment under your doctor's direction to find the best treatment...' (p10) is an example of much of her style. Nevertheless, I think this book will prove helpful for many carers and for people who are facing their final illness.

Reviewed by
Anthony Smith

Hospice Doctor in Canterbury

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