What is an End of Life Doula
End of life doulas provide practical and emotional (plus spiritual if important) support to a person with a terminal diagnosis and those important to them. We work in the person’s home as well as hospices, hospitals and care homes. We offer support at any age or stage of illness. Our non-medical role is to preserve the quality of wellbeing, sense of identity and self-worth from the moment we are called upon. The person and those important to them are at the very centre of all we do.
We are a consistent and compassionate presence with knowledge, experience and understanding. This supports those that we are alongside to exercise choice about where and how they are cared for. We facilitate an end of life that it is as peaceful, meaningful and dignified as it can be.
End of life doula support can begin when a person has received the news they have a life limiting illness, or we may become involved during a person’s final months and weeks. We will often continue to support those important to the person after their death with the bereavement and funeral arranging.
Another important aspect of our role is to be available to people at any stage in their lives to share our knowledge and provide guidance on death and dying. Our aim is to bring dying ‘home’ in our communities as we believe it is all of our business and not the sole preserve of experts and professionals. We work in our communities in many ways, including providing information and guidance around Advance Planning, funeral arrangements, bereavement and grief support, and assisting people to navigate health, social care and government agencies.
End of life doulas can:
- Be an advocate when your wishes need to be upheld
- Open up conversations so death is approached with reduced fear or loneliness
- Advance Planning for end of life – assistance to discuss and record your wishes and preferences
- Help you and those close to you find your way around the health and social care services in your area
- Support important decisions and choices such as where you would want to die, how you would want to be cared for, and by who
- Be practical – run errands, do some housework, prepare a meal
- Act as a point of contact and coordinator for other services
- Support people in their home on an ongoing basis, and regularly work alongside other health and social care professionals in hospitals, hospices, care and nursing homes
- Organise offers of help and respite to allow unpaid carers to rest
- Take time to sit with the dying person, to ‘hold the space’
- Guide and support through the formalities after a death including registration and funeral planning
- Continue to provide emotional support for the bereaved after death