I was fortunate last week to meet two women who are training to become end of life Doulas – women who I thought could be so helpful to families supporting someone nearing end of life.
An End of Life Doula is there to support a person, and those that they love, with a terminal diagnosis. They work in the person’s home as well as hospices, hospitals and care homes. An End of Life Doula can be a huge help to families. End of Life Doulas are trained to be sensitive to practical and emotional (plus spiritual if important) needs. They can be a consistent and compassionate presence with knowledge, experience and understanding. They help the people they are supporting to exercise choice about where and how they are cared for. Most importantly, the Doula will facilitate an end of life that it is as peaceful, graceful, meaningful and dignified as it can be.
Another important aspect of the role is to be available to people at any stage in their lives to share knowledge and provide guidance on death and dying – the aim is to bring dying ‘home’ in communities. They provide information and guidance to demystify Living Wills, Advance Decisions, funeral arrangements, bereavement and grief support, navigating through the labyrinth of health, social care and government agencies and so on.
An End of Life Doula can:-
- Guide people through all the decisions and choices that need to be made at the end of life
- Be alongside so the person can live the life that’s left
- Offer practical and emotional support to loved ones
- Be a point of contact for the other services and kinds of support
- Be an advocate when wishes need to be upheld
- Co-ordinate personal visits
- Organise help such as giving family carers a break
- Take time to sit with the dying person – as a companion, to listen, talk, provide comfort and reassurance or just ‘be’
- Have conversations so death is approached without fear or loneliness
- Be practical: providing care, walking the dog, doing housework, preparing meals, making a cup of tea, running errands
- Be available when the person has died to support family and friends.
More information is available from https://eol-doula.uk, where you can also ask for a Doula working in your locality to get in touch.
Helena Bladon, Development Manager