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With a Light Touch

With a Light Touch
With a Light Touch 3D Cover

Available formats:
ebook (ePub edition)
ebook (Kindle edition)
ebook PDF

A guide to healthcare in frailty

We live in an ageing society, and for most of us our final years of life will be spent with a degree of frailty. This book provides a practical guide and a Christian perspective on wise use of healthcare for those living with frailty. It is helpful both to those who are already experiencing how age limits their abilities, and also to those who are becoming involved in healthcare decisions for parents or older relatives. 

Dr Ian Donald has been a specialist in the care of older people for over 30 years, and a pioneer for care in the community. He discusses openly the limitations of healthcare, the risks of too many pills and the dangers of a long spell in hospital. He argues that a unique style of healthcare is now emerging, preferable to many, which lies somewhere between hi-tech and comfort-only care.

Ian Donald writes with clarity and compassion … a deeply encouraging book full of practical help, backed by fascinating research and years of experience.

Bishop John Pritchard

About the Author

Dr Ian Donald

Dr Ian Donald

Dr Ian Donald trained at Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities, and became a consultant in Geriatric Medicine in Gloucester in 1988. He led the department for 15 years and undertook research into the epidemiology of ageing within the county, which led to over 20 publications and his MD at Cambridge University. Throughout his career he was a pioneer for Hospital-at-home services and liaison healthcare with care homes and community teams, and in the last 10 years he developed a specialist frailty team working in the Emergency Department of the hospital.

He became concerned that many older people were taking too many medications potentially causing more harm than good, and this led to the development of his own prescribing guidelines for those living with frailty. These were widely adopted across the county and led to marked improvements in appropriate prescribing. In 2018 the Gloucestershire Hospitals Trust chose him for the Lifetime Achievement Award.  He has been a member of the Christian Medical Fellowship throughout his working career, and was invited to speak at the New Wine conferences in 2009 and 2010 on some of the topics raised in his book, With a Light Touch.

His wife of 40 years, Philippa, was ordained in the Church of England in 2011. They have three sons and two grand-daughters.


November 2021

6 Nov, 2pm.

Book launch.
Address: St Catharine’s church,
Gloucester GL2 0RR

Endorsements and Reviews

Bishop John Pritchard

With a Light Touch is full of gracious wisdom from a consultant in geriatric medicine who has fully integrated his professional knowledge and skill with the faith that energises him. Ian Donald writes with clarity and compassion and has given us a deeply encouraging book full of practical help, backed by fascinating research and years of experience. I came away informed, cheered and renewed in hope.

Bishop John Pritchard

Canon Neil Heavisides

The title of Ian’s book perfectly expresses the way in which he has given us a most thoughtful and perceptive introduction to a subject which must concern us all.

He does this from his long experience as a physician specialising in ‘frailty’. This term in itself reminds us that vulnerability and dependence are not the preserve of the elderly. Individual independence is an illusion.

Ian’s deep Christian faith undergirds this book, but it is never partisan or hectoring. He has a large view of healing, reminding us that it is not all about ‘curing’. Bringing wholeness can mean ‘making sense and coming to terms with our condition, improving the symptoms so that we can live with it; and even using it for a new purpose’. His approach to dying and death is similarly creative.

This is indeed a book for our time and I am sure it will both encourage and challenge all who read it.

Canon Neil Heavisides

The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek

This book wonderfully fills a gap on many bookshelves. It is born from years of experience and a deep Christian faith. The pages of this book dare to name things that are often not spoken, and Ian Donald weaves together the practical and the reflective. Whether you are someone in the later years of life, a family member or carer, or someone who is having the courage to think about what it means to grow old, this book is a treasure trove of wisdom, pertinent questions and pragmatic comment, all rooted in the bigger picture of what it means to be mortal.

The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek

Bishop of Gloucester and Anglican Bishop for HM Prisons

Sheila Appleton

Dr Ian Donald is a geriatrician who brings many years of experience in working with frailty to this book. It’s a superb book. I only wish we’d had something like it when my dad lived with us. I think it will benefit both carers and those of us who are ‘getting on a bit’! It needs to be read by anyone who looks after elderly relatives, or as a preparation for our own aging and dying.

The blend of Christian teaching and thinking and the medical perspective is so helpful – and excellent.

I highly recommend it.

Sheila Appleton
RGN (Retired), Adv. Dip. Pastoral Counselling (Nottingham University), Post qualifying cert (Adlerian), BACP Registered Accredited Counsellor

Dr Andrew Seymour

The book covers an important subject in a compassionate and clear way. It is wide-ranging in terms of considering the issues affecting the fourth age, and the use of ‘real-life’ examples add validity to the subject matter as one knows that they are based on a genuine professional experience. As a clinician I have long thought that some of the care we provide for the older population is over-medicalised and has also not always been completely person-centred. This book cogently explains how more holistic approaches are far more appropriate, and that when they are underpinned by a Jesus-centred attitude and philosophy, it is possible to age well and, indeed, die well in our post-modern society.

Dr Andrew Seymour
GP and Chair of Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group

Prof. David G Smithard MD FRCP FRCSLT (Hon)

Ian has been an advocate for older people for many years; his passion has been plain to see. This book is a distillation of his knowledge and his faith, written in a style that makes the information accessible to all…

Prof. David G Smithard MD FRCP FRCSLT (Hon)
Editor, Triple Helix, Christian Medical Fellowship

…a book for our time … it will both encourage and challenge all who read it.

Canon Neil Heavisides




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