The Revd Dr Michael Wright

Books: Heaven for the Few







Hensall Book






and Palliative Care

in Southeast Asia








Victor Zorza:

A Life Amid Loss





 and Palliative Care

in Africa


Transitions in End of Life Care in Eastern Europe and Central Asia


A Bit of Heaven for the Few



In the final third of the twentieth century, care of the dying in the United Kingdom was transformed by the work of a new wave of modern hospices. Building on the foundations of earlier homes for the dying, they developed new approaches to patient care and the organisation of services, as well as to research, education and training for staff. After the opening of St Christopher’s Hospice in South London in 1967, others quickly followed, both as independent charities and as services within the National Health Service.


The influence of the hospice movement came to be something wider than service delivery alone, representing an important social movement within society that promoted better awareness of end of life care and a positive approach to the care of those facing death. Drawing on an extensive archive of interviews with hospice professionals and volunteers from settings across the United Kingdom, this book provides the first detailed oral history of this remarkable development.



David Clark, Neil Small, Michael Wright, Michelle Winslow, Nic Hughes (2005). A Bit of Heaven for the Few? An Oral History of the Modern Hospice Movement in the United Kingdom. Lancaster: Observatory Publications. 239 pp. (ISBN 0-9544192-0-0)




Comments and reviews


No amount of documentation could provide an account so rich in its revelation of motivations, means and methods, and of change in professional knowledge and careers. The oral history evidence tells of networks in the development of theory and practice from first hand perspectives, with, amongst other intriguing things, the history of the ‘Bromptom cocktail, an early approach to pain relief which, though extensively resorted to, never actually appeared in the British National Formulary.’

Joanna Bornat (2006) Medical History April 50 (2):260-261.


‘Thank goodness someone has realised the urgency of producing this fascinating book and has done justice to its contributors. The authors … have produced a readable and methodologically robust collection of pioneering voices that might otherwise have been lost or unacknowledged. The horizontal format, numerous photographs, clear use of language and split page design make this an engaging and reasonably priced book.’ Rachel Stanworth (2006) Hospice information Bulletin April: 15. (Rachel Stanworth is lecturer in psychosocial and spiritual palliative care, Compton Hospice.)


‘This book is essential reading for anyone — health professional or lay person—wishing to understand how the modern hospice movement evolved. Although it explicitly addresses the development of this form of end of life care in the United Kingdom, the book is totally relevant to the development of hospice programs and palliative care throughout the world ...  [the] interviews of pioneers and consolidators of hospice care in the UK provide sensitive insights into those persons’ motivations and experiences … It will be a rare individual who, after reading this remarkable book, does not gain markedly increased insights and sensitivity about caring for patients at the end of life.’ Arthur G Lipman (2006) Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy 20 (1): 64-65. (Arthur G Lipman is Professor of the College of Pharmacy, School of Medicine, University of Utah Health Sciences Centre, Salt Lake City.)


‘Quite frankly, this book is a pleasure to read. It has a pleasing style, is funny in parts, of academic substance and great importance … I am sure that everyone working in the field, whatever their specialty and status will be fascinated by the stories the interviewees share about their lives, motivations, aspirations and their insightful reflections. This is such an effective way to learn and reflect on our own practice. Christina Faull (2005) Palliative Medicine 19:643-644. (Christina Faull is consultant in palliative medicine, LOROS Leicestershire Hospice, UK.)


‘This is an accessible yet scholarly book that provides new and intriguing insights into the development of the modern hospice movement … The use of oral history provides a stimulating and thought provoking perspective on the past, which may enable new insights into tackling future developments. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the care of the dying in Britain today.’ Kate Lillie (2007) Mortality 12:1 96-97. (Kate Lillie works at the University of Birmingham, UK).