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Family Council Book Discussion

Looking for something to launch discussions at your Council meetings?  Share the book Making Rounds with Oscar by Dr. David Dosa. This book is available at local bookstores and online.

This book describes one doctor’s experiences at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island.  The book focuses on the cat Oscar and his role in the Home, his relationship to the residents and David’s journey toward appreciating this unique animal.


Book Discussion Month 1: Chapters 1-3

The first three chapters describe David’s introduction to Oscar. After you’ve read these three chapters, consider the following:

  1. Have you heard of this cat before?
  2. Share your opinions about having animals in Long Term Care Homes.
  3. What do you think about Oscars’ ability to sit with the residents?
  4. What questions do these three chapters raise for you?


Book Discussion Month 2: Chapters 4-6

The story of the Rubensteins is a story that many family members share. 

  1. Have you or your loved one had any of the memory tests explained in in the fourth chapter?  Share a few stories about them. What was the test like? How did it make you feel? How did it make your beloved one feel?
  2. Share a few stories of getting the diagnosis – what did you and your relative do?
  3. How do you feel about Frank Rubensteins request of Dr. Dosa? “Doctor I want you to do everything for my wife….”
  4. What do you think of Dr. Dosa’s hesitation in doing some of the tests?
  5. What does it mean to let go?


Book Discussion Month 3: Chapters 7-9

The story of the Rubenstein’s continues in this chapter with the challenge of figuring out how to help people who cannot accept the situation they find themselves in. Talk about your own reflections on end of life care.

  1. How does your Home remember residents who have died? Would you like something more done? Discuss your ideas with your Council.
  2. Oscar seems to have a “knowing” about people who may be at the very end of their life? Have you heard of other pets that have seemed to have this sixth sense? Share your stories.
  3. Dr. Dosa talks to a daughter who reflects on the life and experience of her mother in Long Term Care. Share some of your reflections and comments about her experience admitting her Mother to hospital to get her off medications. Have you ever heard of this?


Book Club Discussion Month 4: chapters 10-12

  1. The staff of Steere House had close relationships with the families of their residents. Talk about your relationship with the people who care for your relative. Have you found ways to thank them for the care they give? Have you found ways to address concerns when they arise?
  2. Repetitiveness is one of the many frustrating symptoms of dementia. Discuss ways you have found effective in dealing with repetitiveness. What strategies have you tried? Which ones have been most effective?
  3. Oscar played a large role at the end of the life of Rita and Annette’s mother. What was their reaction to Oscar’s care? How did they describe the role of the pets at Steere house? What do you think about this?


Book Club Discussion Month 5: chapters 12-14

  1. There are many things that science can explain and then there are the stories where science falls short of explaining. Have you had an experience that you would label “mysterious?” Share your story.
  2. Some people think it could be upsetting for young grandchildren to visit Long Term Care Homes, like Freddy in the story. Discuss your thoughts on this. Share your experiences.
  3. Often parents do not want young children to be around people who are ill or at the end of their life. Discuss your opinion and share your experience.
  4. In chapter 14 the story talks about the decisions needed when a patient cannot eat or refuses to eat. Share your thoughts about Frank’s situation.

Let us know if your Council is reading this book and if you have any suggestions of other books that Councils may find interesting.


Book Club Discussion Month 6: chapters 15- 17

  1. There are 23 chapters in this book and if we include the Afterword, 24.  We are more than half way through now.  Discuss what about this book has impacted you. Is there a story or conversation or phrase from the book that has made an impression on you? Share it with your Council.
  2. Chapter 15 describes people’s experiences when they have a diagnosis of dementia.  Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is often the reason that people come to Long-Term Care. Dr. Dosa describes how working with families and people with dementia has made him treasure “function and learning to play the hand you’re dealt.” What does this mean to you?
  3. “You have to learn to love the person they become and find moments of happiness in little things.” Share how this sentiment becomes reality when you care for someone who is in Long-Term Care. Share the moments of happiness in the little things.


Book Discussion Month 7: Chapters 18-20

  1. Dr. Dosa describes the issues of the Health care system in Rhode Island in terms of decreasing the amount of money per patient in his story about Mary.  Doing more with less is a reality we face in Ontario. Discuss your experience of doing more with less.
  2. In the midst of doing more with less share how you were able to find creative ways of doing more with less.
  3. The book talks about the fact that we find it challenging to speak of death.  Dr. Dosa describes in his book how sad and difficult it is for some the people. Share your reflections on this part of the book.  How does it make you feel?  What are your thoughts?
  4. Oscar continues his uncanny way of being present when people are nearing the end of their life.  Are you more convinced now we are nearing the end of the book that Oscar “knew” in his own way about death?  Share your thoughts. 


Studying a book together can provide a shared experience that can help a team work together. We suggest that taking even 15-20 minutes at your meeting to talk about a book can set a positive tone and helps people talk about their journey as a family caregiver. Tell us about your experience with this book or if you have read something you want to share let us know and we can suggest it for the next book club series. 


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Visit Dr. David Dosa's website and see a video of Oscar: