Who and what is an End of Life Doula?
End of Life Doulas have been around for centuries and are currently very active in the UK, Canada and America. It is a growing service in Australia and many are more familiar with Doula’s being related to birth.
Doula is a Greek word meaning ‘woman of service’. At end of life we have both female and male Doulas fulfilling this non-medical role.
We say, at Preparing the Way, that an End of Life Doula is someone who provides support, resources and options to people with a life-limiting diagnosis or those planning for and/or approaching their end of life and/or those close to them.
There is often so much to consider, many things to manage, choices to make and it can be very challenging to manage all of this. Knowing all your options will make a significant difference.
Looking after, caring for and sometimes even knowing someone who is dying can be confronting, confusing and challenging for all involved.
Having an end of life Doula with you, whether in the background as a guide and reference point or more deeply involved will allow you and those important to you to move forward living life as you choose.
Being fully informed as to resources available, knowing what support that is there for you and having assistance navigating the world of the health system gives people the power of choice; creating their way forward in line with their own values, needs and choices.
“The only time you don’t have a choice, is when you haven’t made one” Helen Callanan
The role of a Doula is different to that of a carer. A Doula can provide a broad range of services depending on the individual need.
What does an End of Life Doula do and how can they help me/us?
End of Life Doula’ing brings the heart back into care…offering reassurance, support, options and education allowing people to make informed choices, take back their lives and live them as they choose.
An End of Life Doula:
- Assists you in knowing what is required and completing your legal documents so you can have your choices known and wishes followed. Depending on which Australian state you reside in, there are different legal and statutory requirements for ‘paperwork’ and legal documents empowering who you choose to support you.
- Provides you information about many end of life choices you have both for living and for after death.
- Supports in your right to choose an end-of-life that is meaningful to you and consistent with your belief system and values (ethnic, cultural, religious/spiritual or personal).
- Assists you put into place all your plans for the future as you wish.
- Advocates for and guides all involved through the medical/hospital/nursing world ensuring that you know all you need to.
- Can be your liaison, your ‘interpreter’ with your medical and other support teams.
- Accesses the support services and other resources you may need or prefer.
- Provides emotional support to all involved, before, during and after death.
- Coordinates services and all aspects of care provision as needs change.
- Assists in the maintenance of an intimate, spiritual and peaceful ‘space’ and experience for everyone involved whether medical support is required or not and whether in the home, hospice or residential facility.
- Provides emotional and spiritual support, or facilitate access to specialists who can do so.
To coin a popular phrase…in essence, a Doula has your back!