Winter 2021 – Collaborative Spotlight
Virtual Care and Support – The Current Reality in End-of-Life Services
The year 2020 taught us that we must learn to adapt how we provide care and support as end-of-life doulas. Flexibility has always been a necessary part in our work. After all, death has its own time frame and that means plans and schedules cannot be rigid. We’ve never had to be as adaptable to change as we have this past year. Because end-of-life doulas are not medical providers, we do not have easy access to PPE (personal protective equipment). Thus, it isn’t prudent for us to do home care, certainly not in the way we are used to…sitting vigil and holding hands at the bedside, hugging a caregiver with anticipatory grief or who hasn’t slept in two nights, or giving a much-needed respite to loved ones.
Like many other professions, we find ourselves adapting to providing our clients with virtual services via telephone and video calls. Although we cannot physically be present to hold a hand, offer a hug, or provide respite, there is a lot we can do virtually, from offering supportive, skilled expertise in doing life review, legacy work, vigil planning, companionship conversations, and offering suggestions to caregivers on self-care and to explain and normalize the death process. We can also assist after death with early grief processing and resources. We can also offer video calls and phone calls to support clients in assisted living or skilled nursing facilities if that is available.
There is no substitute for in-person connection, conversation, and support. This we know for sure. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t tremendous value in what we can provide virtually. There are gaps in what hospice or palliative care can provide to meet the needs of the dying person and caregivers. These gaps are what end-of-life doulas fill with their services. As long as we remain under restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will strive to fill those gaps as we continue serving the needs of our clients despite the in-person limitations.
Reach out to our end-of-life doulas and inquire how they might serve you or your loved ones during this time.