This course is designed to provide an in-depth overview of the emerging role of end-of-life (EOL) doulas, how they fit into existing healthcare models, and the issues, challenges, and rewards that surround this field of end-of-life care.
Throughout the course, learners will be exposed to a wide variety of published information, interviews with industry professionals, and chances to examine their own experiences, beliefs, hopes, and fears about the death and dying. We intend to create a supportive learning experience with lots of opportunities to build collegiality, as the subject is intense, challenging, and affecting.
• Become prepared to work in harmony with a client’s chosen care team (potentially) including community members, family, friends, and medical practitioners to fill-in support gaps as needed and heighten a client’s feelings of empowerment and self-efficacy.
• Respect appropriate professional/personal boundaries while keeping the client’s best interest in mind at all times.
• Understand common terminal conditions and diseases (and their associated symptoms and progressive courses of decline), pain management practices, the active dying process, and helpful interventions to ease suffering.
• Describe the role and scope of an EOL Doula and apply the core skills of providing unconditional positive regard and nonjudgmental support while comfortably holding space, companioning, and engaging in open, accepting dialog with clients.
• Garner a wide variety of details about special populations based on religious beliefs and cultural norms, as well as the unique challenges associated with pediatric death and end-stage dementia.
• Recognize and support the stages and facets of anticipatory grief, mourning, and bereavement.
• Effectively refer patients and families to other local professionals, organizations, support groups, and businesses that provide offerings to those at the end of life.
• Engage in meaningful conversations with clients and assist with legacy projects to encourage emotional acceptance and peaceful preparation.
• Develop seemingly endless, practical methods of decreasing anxiety/suffering by utilizing visualizations, guided imagery, simple massage techniques, as well as creating an comforting energetic space for clients which feels calming and relaxing.
• Support clients in developing vigil wishes and values-based advance directives.
• Nurture a protective, calm presence and environment during vigil sitting.
• Offer acute bereavement support and appropriate referrals to a client’s family and friends after death.
Weekly Module Topics
Orientation: The EOLD course offers an optional online orientation that opens one week prior to the course start date, and can be completed at the student’s own pace, whenever is convenient. Students are highly encouraged to take part in this one-hour orientation, but it is not required.
Week 1: Introduction to End of Life Work, Dying Person’s Bill of Rights, Role and Scope of an end-of-life Doula, Introduction to Hospice and Palliative Care, Personal Death Awareness; Introduction to end-of-Life Options and Wishes
Week 2: Introduction to the Grief Continuum (Stages and Dimensions of Grief and Loss, Anticipatory Grief, Supportive Responses), Commonalities in EOL Experiences
Week 3: Understanding the Patient Experience, Introduction to Dementia, Music at the End of Life, Universal Safety Precautions, Introduction to Basic Hands-on Care, Starting the Conversation (Goals of Care, Common Illnesses/Diseases, Pain Assessment and Management)
Week 4: Appropriate Professional and Personal Boundaries, Companioning versus Treating; Serving versus Helping, Non-judgemental Support, Entering Sacred Space, Holding Space
Week 5: “Turning Toward” Suffering, Dignity Therapy, Active Dying Process: Signs and Supportive Interventions, The Needs of Clients, Caregiving Considerations, Self-Care
Week 6: Religious/Cultural Beliefs and Practices, Spirituality, After Death Options, Complementary Care, Roles Among Providers/Systems, Care Coordination
Week 7: Preparing for Loss (Life Review, Completion Work, Legacy Projects), Bereavement/Grief Support, Pediatric Death, Loss, and Grief
Week 8: Setting Intention, Comfort Measures, Guided Imagery, Setting a Personalized Atmosphere of Calm, Vigil Planning, Vigil Sitting, Self-Reflection (Re-evaluation of Personal End-of-Life Wishes), What a Doula Does
Free, Bonus Modules: Doula Bag, Visit Ideas/Activities, The Emerging End-of-Life Doula Career (Meetings, Contracts, Business Considerations), Role and Scope Revisited
We recommend using a browser other than Internet Explorer with our online learning system, Blackboard. Firefox, Google Chrome, or other browsers tend to work more effectively with Blackboard. It’s very important to note that Blackboard will only work with a desktop or laptop computer. It is not designed to be used with phones or tablets (e.g., iPads), so please make sure you have access to a desktop and/or laptop computer for the duration of the class.
This EOL Doula course exceeded my expectations, was thought provoking in areas I had not thought of and really stretched my mindset to the possibilities that this path can lead. The need is great and the rewards are limitless. Thank you for the depth and professionalism you have provided to get me started on this path.
-Renee S., 2019 End of Life Doula Graduate