TO THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST, HOSPICE MEANS HOPE by Kenneth B. Wentzel

TO THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST, HOSPICE MEANS HOPE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A thoughtful general introduction to the philosophy of hospice care, with particular attention to staff needs and the role of volunteers. Wentzel's first contact with hospices was on a sabbatical from a Rhode Island Congregational church when he acted as Visiting Chaplain at London's renowned St. Christopher's Hospice; hence his concern with the spiritual and emotional needs of the terminally ill, rather than their day-to-day care. Regarding the hospice approach, he makes five cardinal points: it constitutes a ""health care bridge"" between treating disease and treating the person, and between society's denial of death and the dying; it requires controlling chronic pain by use of specific pain medications at regular intervals, thus removing one of the most frightening aspects of dying; and it is realistic about the gravity of illness without being insensitive to patients' feelings--what they are willing to face. Also, the family is regarded as the primary unit of caring; and recognition is given to the need of both family and staff for support: preparation of volunteers is therefore crucial, and is here treated separately. Wentzel puts his finger on emerging problems as well: a tendency among staff to rigidly classify patients according to Kubler-Ross' five stages of dying rather than using them to understand and assist patients; an abundance of book-taught but otherwise unpracticed ""experts"" coming to help rather than learn; and increasing numbers of so-called hospices which vary from nursing homes to boarding houses. But Wentzel feels the root problem will be to deal with our own ""existential anxiety"" (""to be human is to be anxious"") and its effects on our contact with the dying. Though Sandol Stoddard's excellent The Hospice Movement (1978) is broader in scope, this could be a welcome supplement--and somewhat more than that for those whose work involves them with hospices in any capacity.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1981
Publisher: Charles River Books