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The Talking Mortality Podcast
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The Talking Mortality Podcast

Author: Dr Calvin J. Lightbody

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Exploring the difficulties and challenges around the issue of human mortality. Individuals, society in general and the medical profession all wrestle with this issue. So let's start talking about it! The podcast is hosted by Dr Calvin J. Lightbody who is a consultant in Emergency Medicine. He has 20 years of healthcare experience and has recently been working to improve the care that hospital patients receive towards the end of life.Comments, feedback and questions welcome on Twitter @CJblue72_Credit: The intro music is an extract of "luv" by "Little Red Church"
9 Episodes
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Mairi's Story

Mairi's Story

2020-03-0931:07

A bereaved daughter gives an open, honest and sincere account of her mother's journey with dementia, from diagnosis through to her eventual death at home.We discuss the impact of the illness on her Mum and a hospital admission near the end of life that was fraught with many challenges.There are many things to learn from Mairi's Story; for individuals diagnosed with a chronic incurable illness, their families and the wider healthcare profession too.
A look at frailty from the perspective of a consultant in geriatric medicine. Following on from the previous episode where we explored frailty in the community setting, Dr Helen McKee shares her experience and insights into caring for frail patients in an acute hospital.Helen outlines why hospital admission can sometimes be harmful for frail patients and outlines some novel approaches in their care.We talk about the benefits of discussing care preferences for patients with severe frailty and how this is particularly relevant when approaching the end of life.Link to the Lanarkshire "Hospital at Home" service:https://www.hospitalathome.org.uk/lanarkshire-hah
Focus on Frailty

Focus on Frailty

2020-01-1633:54

Just over half of our over 65 year old population live with a degree of frailty. So what exactly is frailty? Can it be prevented or controlled? What are the implications of and prognosis with a diagnosis of frailty? What are the benefits of early recognition?I'm discussing these and related questions with Dr Paul Baughan, GP and National Clinical Lead for Palliative & End of Life Care with Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS).To find out more about the work HIS are doing to help people living with frailty please click on the link below:https://ihub.scot/improvement-programmes/living-well-in-communities/our-programmes/living-and-dying-well-with-frailty/
"My doctor has referred me to palliative care - does that mean they've given up on me and I'm going to die?". This is a common and understandable concern for patients who have a life limiting condition when they first hear about the referral.In episode 6 of Talking Mortality, we explore this and some other misunderstandings about palliative care. Dr Karen Harvie who is a consultant in palliative medicine, helps to bring some clarity and realism.Reflecting on her years of experience caring for patients with palliative care needs, Karen shares her wisdom and guides us through some of the frequently encountered myths about end-of-life-care. 
What is dementia? If someone has dementia, what is their prognosis and outlook for the future? What happens when a patient no longer has the capacity to make decisions about their own healthcare? What about dementia care at the end of life?In this episode Dr Calvin Lightbody discusses these issues with Dr Gillian Docherty who is a consultant in old age psychiatry. They also discuss powers of attorney, anticipatory care plans and palliative care for dementia patients.
You wouldn't go on holiday without some degree of planning. It makes sense to pack your case in advance, thinking about what you might need for your trip. An overstuffed case can be burdensome (not to mention expensive!).Similarly when it comes to anticipating the journey at the end of one's life, things really do go better with some degree of planning. In this episode Calvin and Robin talk about advance / anticipatory care plans. What's included in these plans? What are the potential benefits of this kind of thinking? They also discuss some of the ethical issues here and some of the challenges facing the medical profession.
A discussion with Rev Tricia Johnston, hospital chaplain, about spiritual pain. We examine what spiritual care is and how it is particularly relevant for patients who are nearing the end of life.Focusing on purely physical aspects of pain can overlook this important cause of anguish. Some guidance on recognising spiritual pain is provided along with some tips on addressing an issue that for many can take us out of our comfort zones.
What is meant by the term "critical illness"? What are the possible outcomes for someone who is deemed to be in such a condition? How can we determine what the prognosis is in such circumstances?Dr Calvin Lightbody is joined by Professor Robin Taylor to discuss these questions and explore what makes a good "prognostic conversation". The issues around truthfulness and hope at this difficult, uncertain time are covered. They also explore some of the barriers to open, realistic conversations.The episode concludes with suggestions on how to address this sensitive issue.
Why is it so difficult to talk openly about death and dying? There seems to be a "Death Taboo" in our society today. In this episode Dr Calvin Lightbody and Professor Robin Taylor, both hospital consultants in the NHS, discuss the taboo. They explore its history and how it came about. The ways it can affect us as individuals and also its impact on modern hospital medicine is discussed. Finally they look at ways to perhaps start breaking down the taboo, making open conversations about dying more commonplace, realistic and acceptable.
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