Life in a Hospice – Reviews

Reviews and press

Reviews of the second edition

MegaReader, Goodreads

This non-fiction book is a very interesting read, and was highly commended by the British Medical Association in 2008.

These are true life conversations that the author has had with people who work in hospices. These angels of mercy share their thoughts and feelings about their jobs and enlarge on the kind of end-of-life care that we don’t really want to think about until it’s our turn to undergo it. These conversations amongst others include care of the dying person, pain relief, dealing with relatives, and even how the body is prepared after death.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Staff try to give the patients hope and encourage them to pursue their hobbies, and do not talk about death if the patient does not want to know. This type of work is obviously a vocation, and we must be thankful for these people who want to make our passage out of this world as easy as possible. All aspects of working in a hospice are discussed, and this book could also serve as an educational tool.

I have several relatives whose end-of-life experiences were in hospices, and when it comes to the dying process I personally am in favour of hospices over hospitals, as the staff are less rushed and have more time to care for the patient. Nobody runs around like headless chickens in hospices (as staff tend to do on hospital wards), and there is an overall sense of peace and serenity.


Excellent book about life (and death) in a hospice

Jane Duncan Rogers
Author of Before I Go: the essential guide to creating a good end-of-life plan

If you want to know how it is behind the scenes in a hospice, this book tells it like it is. Lots of stories from those working there, in all capacities, and told in an engaging manner, it is a book that can be dipped into and out of, depending on what you’re most interested in. Full of useful information, I would recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about hospices, both specifically and in general



Gwendolyn S Sargeant (on NetGalley)

This book tugs at your heart strings and makes you realise that the troubles in your life are not as important as those dealing with their own mortality. It makes you take inventory of your own life.

Emotional education collection of wonderful stories about life in a hospice

Linda Tilling (on NetGalley)

This book is a lovely moving collection of stories written by people in all walks of the end of life care profession, varying from healthcare assistants, nurses, doctors, chaplains and even a chef! They all had stories to share, experiences to be learnt from and knowledge and advice to pass on. I was moved and overwhelmed at times by the care, compassion and honesty they portrayed. They all do such a wonderful job (which truly is a vocation) that it is so easy to forget they are human beings too – and as much as they try to stay strong for the patients and relatives, they have their own lives to live too and I am sure some of them take their work home with them in their thoughts most nights.

Not many of us want to think about our death at any point in our life, but for those who are in the process of dying, it can be a wonderful thing to be given a chance of a new experience of living, and this book definitely shows that a Hospice is not necessarily a place to go to die, but to live in a different way. This book is also an educational tool and explains the difference between hospice and hospital care, how to prepare yourself and others for the actual death itself, as well as dealing with the patient and their relatives afterwards.

Ann Richardson in this amazing book truly demonstrates the wondrous gift of a good death and shows end of life care at its best.


Lisa H (on NetGalley)

Thank you for the opportunity to read this book. I found it an insightful, well-written book which documented experiences of various people involved in hospice work. It gave me an understanding of how hospice care works and how dedicated the staff are.   I was then inspired to read the author’s book on Aids which has recently been republished.


Carley A. (on NetGalley)

This was a lovely inspiring book about how hospices are run .I was interested in reading this as my great aunt was in a hospice. I thought it was beautifully written and with great respect to the people in the hospice and there family’s .I am glad I got a chance to read it. 

Hospice Life Uncovered

Novel Reader (on Net Galley)

A brave book – not afraid to confront both the sadness and the opportunity that comes from working with people at the end of their lives. I would recommend it to anyone who really wants to understand hospice life and what a good death really means.

Janice B. (on NetGalley)

As a hospice volunteer, I well know the beauty that can occur at the end of life. This book is a beautifully written and thoughtful explanation of much of what occurs in a hospice. The advice is helpful for us all whether we are dealing with the death of a loved one or seeking knowledge about our own passing. Recommended.

Ellesse O, Media (on NetGalley)

End of life care is a topic that doesn’t tend to come up in everyday conversations, no one wants to think about how they are going to end their days but for some people that is the reality, they live every day. Ann Richardson sits down with 31 real people who work in two different hospices within the UK, from the head nurse, head of hospice, chef, Chaplin, nurses, therapists and doctors.

The vast majority of people do not realise what happens in the hospices, they just know it’s a place for people who are going to pass soon. We get to see the range of things staff have to deal with on a day to day basis. The staff deal with the patients in their care but also deal with their relatives and friends, no one deals with death and grief the same but the staff have to manage these.

The book is a real eye-opener and is a must for people who are thinking they might want to work in a hospice, we get to understand the highs and lows of everyday life in the hospice and how the staff cope and the impact they have.


Mary Goutermont (on NetGalley)

Caretakers everywhere would benefit from reading this book. There are so many reasons out there to want palliative care for yourself or you loved one. This book really opens our eyes and helps us to understand some of the many things that affect hospice care. If you are thinking of quality care for “end of life” situations either for yourself or someone you love, this may be a book you want to peruse to see some of the considerations to think about. It would be an excellent resource for anyone thinking of getting into this kind of job. I highly recommend this book to all who are looking for information and answers on this topic.


Vnunez-M­s_luv2read (on NetGalley)

This was a very good read. I didn’t realize that hospice care did so much. I must admit, when I hear the word “hospice”, I think someone is going there to die. This book lets you know that so much more is done at this type of facility. The breakdown of the book is also very interesting. We hear from people in different roles as well as the families of what goes on in hospice. I always thought there were certain jobs that take special people to do and this is one of them. Thank you to all that work to make one’s possible final days one filled with care, dignity and pain controlled. I will no longer look at a hospice facility the same again.


Janet C., Librarian (on NetGalley), March 2018

What a beautiful but complicated book. As the child of two elderly parents, this is a subject I think of almost daily: this book is going to make it a LOT EASIER to deal with. The advice is smart and just and should be easily understood by any level of reader. A great sourcebook for people who are or may be dealing with this subject. Great book.


Debra M.(on NetGalley), March 2018

Being a nurse, I come up against death and dying. You have to be a special kind of person to work in a hospice.


Cheryl W. (on NetGalley)

This was probably a great time for me to read this book with my grandmother having just passed. It shows how these silent heroes care for those that are dying and how they realize no matter what it is never easy.

It’s not all darkness and gloom

An avid reader, 22 February 2018.

This is an absolutely wonderful book. It’s a must-read for everyone, especially those who are not yet aware of the fact that death is an inevitable part of life. The way people in hospice care are dealing with this is, as strange as it sounds, wonderful and it may come as a surprise that it is not all darkness and gloom. I was so glad to come across this eye-opening book. I will treasure it forever.
Extremely touching and moving book
HeidiLynn, 24 February 2018.

This book gives you an incredible in-depth look into all the beneficial ways hospice and their staff care for all of their patients. Ann wrote this amazing book for people to understand the motivation behind working with this population. How much joy that it brings to them helping these individuals.

One thing I loved in the book was the interviews with the various caregivers talking about their experiences with their patients. Some had very interesting stories to share. You could tell they all really loved what they did for a living. That they genuinely cared for each patient and making a difference in their lives. That is so important in hospice care.

This book is extremely educational and explains things like the difference between hospice to hospital care, how to prepare for the actual death, after the death giving time for the families, and basically how to deal with the patient.

This book was very well thought out and organized. You could tell a lot of heart went into putting this together with all the interviews.

A very comprehensive and interesting book

Ged, 5 March 2018.

Since my father died last year and with my mother fast sinking into dementia, I feel drawn to the subject of death and how to alleviate some of the sufferings.
This book delves into the physical and practical needs of hospice care and although it is somber subject matter it was well presented.
Coming from the UK, I was surprised at the number of people using these services. When you start to think of two hundred thousand people as less than 50% of the recipients it starts to feel more real.
The book makes you appreciate the hospice workers. It’s not that I couldn’t do their job but I would rather not.
It’s not until you read a book like this, that you think of all the people involved in the process, from counsellors and nurses to chaplains, volunteers, consultants & occupational therapists.
The book provided some interesting insights into hospice life, from large bouts of laughter (although as a laughter yoga practitioner I can see the benefits of laughter) to the differences between the night and day experiences in hospices.
A very comprehensive and interesting book.

A well presented, informed and inspiring book
 10 October 2017.
I was drawn to this book because I had experienced the hospice system for a short period of time fifteen years ago when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I was curious to find out what it offered these days. In addition, the first edition of the book received praise from the British Medical Association.

The book consists of recorded conversations which make for easy, fluid reading, and authenticity, at the same time raising the key issues that are essential to understanding the hospice world.

The book is divided into four parts:
1. The work of hospices including the differences between hospitals and hospices, the needs of relatives as well as patients, recognising terminal stages, respecting the wishes of patients. (Some of these were confirmed by my own experiences).
2. Tricky issues and difficulties such as families in denial, or neglectful families. (Very illuminating accounts from doctors through to chefs).
3. Motivation and rewards which answer the question- What makes the work worthwhile? “Privileged to do such work” appears a lot in this section.
4. Reflections on Working in a Hospice including the qualities required by a hospice worker: patience, being tough, having a sense of humour, imagination to feel what the patient has endured and so on.

There are three certainties in life: Birth, Taxes and Death. Here in the Western world much time is devoted to preparing for “Birth”. Death is generally ignored till it happens. Yet we all have to pass through the portals of death. I would therefore highly recommend this book to everyone.

Last but not least, I regard this as an excellent handbook for anyone facing the death of a loved one.


Insightful look into hospice life

Matt, 23 May 2017.

As a palliative care physician working in the hospice setting, reading this book was a great help to me in many ways. It helped me really understand and relate to the many roles and perspectives within the hospice, from the chef to the nursing staff in an open honest way. It helped me see other coping mechanisms and struggles and truly re-inspires me as to the good work being done. It is very easy to read and well structured and clearly had a lot of good research put into it. I can really recommend this to both health care professionals, the wider multidisciplinary team and to any one who has been through this tough time or is embarking upon it. It is not a depressing book, rather the opposite, an inspiring look at resolve and compassion.


A fascinating insight into the world and work of a hospice

Vicky Dearing, 21 March 2017.

I found this an absorbing read. It gives a real insight into a world that I knew little about. Learning about the different roles of the people who work in a hospice and how they interact with each other and the public at large was really interesting. The accounts come across as very honest – you felt you were getting to eavesdrop on conversations where people were opening up. As death is a subject we don’t talk about much and most of us are a bit afraid of I found it helpful to learn how professionals in this area deal with the events around death, what to say – or what not to say – how to cope with extremes of emotions. The depth of the caring for the patients and relatives- even in small things – was very evident.


A fascinating read

Dr Elizabeth Lee, 23 March 2017.

What I like about this book is that it gives voice to such a variety of people. All sorts of staff including the Patient Affairs Officer and even the Hospice chef, describe in moving detail the challenges and rewards of working in a hospice. It is written with a clarity and sensitivity that make the book a pleasure to read. Some passages made me cry and. rather to my surprise, others made me laugh. In spite of it’s subject it is a book that is full of life. It is honest and interesting. A fascinating read.


I am so glad I did
Linda M Davies, 15 June 2017.

Sadly, my mother died in a hospice in 2011 and I felt unsure whether I was prepared to read this book. I am so glad I did. Whilst I knew how tenderly and lovingly all the staff looked after my mum, this book brought all the good memories back. Ann Richardson paints an authentic and honest picture of life in a hospice through interviews and narrative. On occasions I even chuckled but above all the brutal honesty conveyed is very moving. The book is well written with a simple easy-flowing style which helps deliver this difficult subject to your heart. Thank you for this insight Ann.


This is one of the best books I have read…

Dr Mahesh Patel, 26 July 2017.

This is one of the best books I have read and I even gave a copy to a patient who is a consultant in palliative medicine who enjoyed reading it too – Please buy and read this book.


This book lets those involved in the institutions…

Paul Hoggart, 23 August 2017.

This book lets those involved in the institutions where people face death speak for themselves – an undiluted record of human experience in all its complexity.


A real insight into the joys and challenges of compassionate care

Alice Oven, 11 July 2017.

My grandmother recently went into full time care, and Ann’s book has really helped me understand what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ and appreciate the level of care and compassion the staff provide her. Having read Life in a Hospice, I have a new appreciation of the challenges her carers face every day, and also feel more prepared to deal with the next stage when the day comes. I recognised a lot of the empathy and human stories in the book, in the carer who freshly paints my grandma’s nails when she has a ‘special visitor’ to the hospice’s flexibility in allowing dogs to visit as well as relatives. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a relative or friend in a care home!


I thoroughly recommend it and especially to those who would like to …

Amazon Customer, 3 July 2017.

It is interesting to read the testimonies of carers and staff in the hospices to gain insight into the extraordinary courage that patients and families demonstrate and also the difficulties that come with denial about dying.

The interviews have been well drawn together to give a full and rounded impression of hospice life. I thoroughly recommend it and especially to those who would like to draw on the experiences of others to support them in the

Very uplifting and interesting – very readable

Amazon Customer, 18 March 2017.

The title of this book is right. A friend recommended it to me, but I was reluctant to read it because I thought it would be depressing to read about dying people. In fact, it is full of life and incredibly uplifting, because people who work in hospices are very impressive in what they do for patients. It’s also fascinating to learn what goes on behind the scenes and how staff cope.


A welcome kindle re-launch

C. Nicholls, 16 March 2017.

I read Ann Richardson’s sensitive, helpful book Life in a Hospice when it was first published and now I’m delighted to see it re-launched for the kindle. It’s not just a book for professionals but one for all who face palliative and end of life care for themselves and family. I highly recommend it.


As a medical ethicist in a teaching hospital, I …

Frederick Nenner, March 14, 2017.

As a medical ethicist in a teaching hospital, I am moved by the candour of staff, specifically when they talk about the difficulties experienced and what they do to cope. It makes the mission and work real. There is nothing academic in the understanding we have after reading about what people do, why they do it and what it actually means to patients and their families. We are in the experience. Very helpful for the people who actually do the work. It makes legitimate what we think and feel, but are reluctant to admit to – let alone speak about.


Hospice care for the dying.

Arthur Goldschmidt, March 15, 2017.

The book is on a subject that should be of universal interest, death, although most people do not care to think about it, and about how hospice care makes the process less painful, physically and psychologically, for the person who is doing it and for that person’s friends and family. It is a skilfully organized series of interviews with friends and family of the dying patients, caregivers, and administrators, easy to read and full of unforgettable, deeply personal stories.


A hospice is not a sad place, it’s a place of peace for living …

Ruth Abel, July 4, 2017.

Ann Richardson has written a book on hospice care that should be read by all medical people and anyone facing end-of-life issues with family or friends. I thought I knew quite a bit about how a hospice works, having had a brother-in-law who was in hospice care. I learned a lot. A hospice is not a sad place, it’s a place of peace for living until the end comes and a comfort for families. It’s interesting reading what staff have to say about working in a hospice. A very important book on the subject.


Caring for the dying at its best

A reader from Europe, April 28, 2017.

What a relevant book. No matter what walk of life or age, all of us will at some stage have to care for our dying parents, and it is therefore relevant for all of us to know what is going on behind the doors of hospices.

I was interested in reading this book because I have an elderly mother, aged 86. She is doing fine, but I am sure the moment will come, sooner or later that I will have to take care of her, so decided to delve into the subject of end-of-life care. Not that I want to work in a hospice, but I would like to get a feeling for what it is like. And well, I was pleasantly surprised that the author Ann Richardson covers all possible subjects. Not only about the caring itself, but also about the daily rhythms, the family, children of those who are about to die, the anxieties. All in all, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book.


I am not a person to give up easily and I decided to order the book

ULM, 29 March 2017.

I am a trained nurse. The thing that appealed to me the most about this book is how honest and down to earth it is. The passages from interviews are short and easy to read and anyone reading this book should come away with a very good theoretical understanding on what life in a hospice is all about.

Whilst staff give their own opinions about what might happen when a person dies it is clearly identified as a personal opinion and there is a good balance of views. Very well researched.

Reading this book has given me a lot of confidence that should I (or anyone I care about) need the services of a hospice, it would be a good place to be.  It has also given me a reminder that many issues hospice staff struggle with are very similar issues encountered by hospital staff.  There is no getting away from suffering – it’s the way we react to it that matters. And that brought me back to the topic. There is no getting away from death – but thankfully there are hospices that make it more bearable. Thank you very writing a very good book!


A thorough look at hospices

Ann Mershon on April 26, 2017.

Ann Richardson has looked at the world of the hospice from the inside out, documenting the experiences of professionals, managers, staff and family. Her approach to this topic is both unique and thorough, an excellent resource for anyone curious about how hospices function.


Ann Richardson did an excellent job with this book

Amazon Customer, April 20, 2017.

Ann Richardson did an excellent job with this book. For some, hearing the word “hospice” may seem intimidating. However, this book is about living; it depicts the lives of individuals who are devoted to selflessly aid fellow human beings who are facing their darkest time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, because it teaches poignant life lessons we all should be aware of in order to be our best selves. I highly recommend it!


Hospice: Compassionate Care for the Dying
Tillie Bright, October 12, 2017.

From reviews of the first edition

‘An easy-to-read book, which will surprise many professionals and lay readers with its lightness of touch, humanity and refreshing tone. It is heartening to read these honest accounts of working with patients at the end of life. I would recommend it to anyone who has worries about their own or a relative’s care at the end of life – to know that there are good places and people around.’

Dr Nansi-Wynne Evans, GP
BMA Medical Book Competition

‘Adds to the canon of literature of personal narratives in the experience of illness, death and bereavement…The simple reflections on complex areas of care resonate long after you have finished reading the book.’
Cancer Nursing Forum Newsletter
Royal College of Nursing

‘Shines a light on hospices, this little known but crucial service. Unlike a hospital, there is no regimentation and no uniforms. If patients want to die at home, everything possible is done to make it happen. If he or she wants a beer, or to bring in their own pets or to have a bath last thing at night, they can.’
Carol Midgley
The Times

‘Peeks into the lives of those who provide medical and compassionate care to dying patients and their loved ones during their most vulnerable moments. Some of the stories are sad, some are amusing, but all are inspiring. This book offers a snapshot of hospice care at its finest. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in caring for people who are facing death, and anyone considering the option of a residential hospice program for themselves or a loved one.’
Professor Steven Claxton-Oldfield
Journal of Palliative Care

‘Describes how it is the norm within a hospice to go the extra mile – and  how staff in hospices often take on whatever role is needed with patients. Healthcare professionals who work in hospices will find it of interest and some relatives who have a family member in a hospice may find it reassuring.’
Rachel Anticoni
Marie Curie Hospice Manager
Nursing and Therapies News

‘At last, someone has written a book encapsulating the work of hospices as seen through the eyes of the people who work in them….Enlightening reading for all healthcare professionals in palliative care. Highly recommended’
Jayne Warren
Mature Times

‘This fascinating book describes the motivations, rewards, aspirations and stresses of a group of people who work in hospices…. It would be a good read for the layman with no great knowledge of hospice care and would help inexperienced professionals understand the real meaning of palliative care.’
Mike Warren
Hospice Information Bulletin

‘Enlightening reading for all healthcare professionals in palliative care, including volunteer, administrative and support staff.’
Jeannette Bromfield
The Lamp

‘Refreshingly uncluttered by theory and illustrates how caring for the dying is a privilege – challenging and emotionally demanding. This book would be enlightening reading for anyone who wants to understand what makes hospices the success they are, including members of the community at large. After reading the book, our hospice cleaner said “this is just as it is”.

Dr Margaret Cheney,
hospice worker.

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