Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, Vol 2, No 2 (2014)

10.1558/hscc.v2i2.26928

doi:10.1558/hscc.v2i2.26928

Review

Elizabeth MacKinlay, Palliative Care, Ageing and Spirituality: A Guide for Older People, Carers and Families. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2012, 141 pp. (Pbk). ISBN: 9-781-84905-290-0, £12.99.

Reviewed by: Revd Dr Margaret Whipp, Chaplain, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, UK

Email: margaret.whipp@ouh.nhs.uk

This helpful little book does what the title promises, offering a clear and simple guide to the spiritual journey for older people and their carers as they journey towards the end of life.

Elizabeth MacKinlay is an Anglican priest and professor of nursing. Her simple, no-nonsense style combines clear information with compassion and insight. She knows the territory; and manages to convey both depth and wisdom without overly complicating her analysis, or patronizing her readers.

The book is easy to navigate and very clear in its layout. Short chapters explore major themes; grey boxes and bullet points highlight key issues. MacKinlay’s experienced hand guides us gently through the many-faceted challenges and opportunities of what she likes to call the “final life career”. In non-technical language, she names and explores essential topics, ranging from forgiveness and the fear of death to the principles of pain management and the place of dying.

MacKinlay assumes a broadly Christian readership, explaining helpfully the practice of prayer and ritual whilst not excluding less religiously determined expressions of spirituality. It is not a book which explores the darkness in any great profundity: those who are already theologically and spiritually literate will look elsewhere for more nourishing and thought-provoking guidance. But as an introductory guide for patients and carers facing some of these issues for the first time, it provides an invaluable road map.

I shall keep a copy on my shelf ready to loan.

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