Home Care Heroes Blog

Ankota's Book of the Year: Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gawande

 Here at Ankota, now and again we read a book that we think is important for our readers and that we'd like to share.  For this blog, our recommended book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Dr. Atul Gawande.

We've written about Dr. Gawande before. His bookThe Checklist Manifesto, shows how care check lists (an approach our caregivers use everyday) are now being embraced by physicians and greatly improving medical outcomes. We've also written about several of Dr. Gawande's articles in the New Yorker Magazine.

Being Mortal: A Doctor's Perspective on End of Life

"Being Mortal" shares a doctor's perspective on end-of-life matters. It is especially compelling because it talks about what doctors and medicine can't do. You can buy it in many places, but you can find it on Amazon.com here.

Being Mortal - Atul Gawande.jpg

I can't do any justice to the compelling nature of the book in this short review, but I promise that you'll be moved. I'm also hoping that reading this book will open your eyes to working more closely with the healthcare world. 

Here are a few key themes in the book:

  • Setting the tone, Dr. Gawande shares, "I never imagined that among the most meaningful experiences I'd have as a doctor - and, really, as a human - would come from helping others deal with what medicine cannot do as well as what it can."

  • There is a lot of discussion about the trade-off between ending life at home with palliative care as compared to prolonging life in the hospital.

  • He talks about the tough role of geriatricians, who deal with a population convinced that everyone can be ageless. But then he talks about how good geriatric physicians can help their patients live longer and happier lives.

  • The most compelling, but hardest to take parts of the book are the discussions of terminal cases. They're tough to read, but worth doing it.

Why This Book Matters to Home Care

As we train our home care clients on how to enter their client schedules we generally put in a couple of clients together, then use the teach-back method to have our new customer try it on their own. Then we leave them to put in the rest of their schedules and meet several days later to see how things went and what questions arose. It's typical in one of these sessions to hear "Mr. Clements passed...  Can you help us take him off the schedule." Even though we never knew Mr. Clements, this always effects us... I'll think back about who Mr. Clements was and who he left behind. Candidly, I'm happy that we don't deal with this sad aspect of agency leadership on a regular basis. "Being Mortal" can help us all learn more about end-of-life.

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Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

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