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
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; 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
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, 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, Grief Support, Pediatric Death
Week 8: Setting Intention, Comfort Measures, Guided Imagery, Setting a Personalized Atmostphere of Calm, Vigil Planning, Vigil Sitting, Self-Reflection, What a Doula Does
I am a hospice volunteer with a non-clinical background. My knowledge in this field was minimal when I started this course, but I now feel that I have a better understanding of the clients that I serve and feel that I am more prepared to assist them with their needs.
-Kim M., Hospice Volunteer