Though Britain originally founded the Hospice movement, it remains astonishing that the training of doctors in Britain still gives insufficient time and attention to palliative care.

With medical training (understandably) premised upon saving lives, when faced with the brute reality of the common ‘failure’ of patients actually dying in pain and discomfort - our doctors are all too often ill equipped to offer effective end of life care.

Dr Max Pemberton suggests that we need to dramatically improve “the teaching around death and dying by encouraging a clear and compassionate approach…in its absence, I fear we have gone back to that time of uncertainty and fear when too many may die in discomfort or pain.”

End-of-life care – whether at home, in hospitals and hospices - is a hot topic that won’t go away and at some stage, inevitably, touches all our lives. Volunteer caregiver Eric Lindner reports from the frontline of palliative care in his new book Hospice Voices: lessons for the Living at the End of Life. In addition to the life lessons and laughter, Lindner also learns the dos and don'ts of hospice care. These are vital lessons to learn for any medically unqualified carer offering help and respite to the seriously or terminally ill. These volunteer hospice carer rules are:

Do be dependable
Do be genuine
Do listen
Do keep good boundaries (both physical & philosophical)
Do encourage a life review
Do be comfortable with quiet (“silence is okay”)
Do remember to care for yourself
Do communicate changes (with family, friends and authorities)
Do report signs of abuse

Don’t play doctor (with advice or medication)
Don’t judge
Don’t referee (family squabbles)
Don’t help when ill
Don’t break confidentiality
Don’t take it personally
Don’t interrupt (especially when people share)
Don’t enforce your standards/expectations
Don’t give unsolicited advice (especially on religion)
Don’t take on more than you can manage

Eric Lindner notes, “Hospice care boils down to one thing, really: being compassionate. Compassion trumps everything!” All monies raised (worldwide) by sales of this book will be donated to various hospice causes.