Winter 2021 – Industry Spotlight
Palliative Care, Hospice Care and End-of-Life Doulas
The what, when, and why we need supportive care at the end of life, and how end-of-life-doulas can help.
Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care
Until a person is diagnosed with a serious illness, one never gives much thought about palliative care, hospice, and certainly not end-of-life doulas. You may have heard these terms used but, do you know the differences? There are some similarities between palliative care and hospice care. However, the biggest difference between the two, is when each type of care is offered. For example, if you have a diagnosis of a life-altering, long-term illness, you can access palliative care. Hospice care is only available for people with terminal illnesses, or less than 6 months to live. The chart below differentiates between the two. Chart borrowed from: What Are Palliative Care and Hospice Care? – National Institute on Aging.
End-of-Life Doulas Offer Unique Skill Sets
Now that we have a better understanding of the differences between palliative care and hospice care… how can end-of-life doulas help you (or a loved one) along this process? EOL doulas each have unique skill sets. To have a complete understanding of EOLs and the work we do, please refer to our website. For a quick snapshot, an end-of-life doula is a nonmedical professional trained and/or certified to care for a person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs at the end of their life.
Palliative Care and End-of-Life Doulas
A person who is recently diagnosed with a terminal illness may seek out a palliative care team to work alongside their medical team. At this stage, an EOL doula can assist with communication, education, advocacy, planning and support for you or your loved one. For example, an EOL doula can specifically help with Advanced care planning. This involves learning about the types of decisions that might need to be made on your behalf regarding the type of care you desire should you not be able to speak for yourself. An EOL doula can help you have these conversations with the people closest to you. To learn more about advanced care planning check out this website: The Conversation Project
Legacy Projects and End-of-Life Doulas
Legacy projects and planning. To review a lifetime of memories requires not only the right questions but the right listening. One cannot possibly do one without the other. Legacy projects are what make each person a unique being on this earth. How will people remember you? What are your beliefs and values? What memories do you wish to share? What advice do you have for your children? One example of life review and legacy projects are living funerals.
Ethical wills or Legacy letters- These are letters written to communicate values, wisdom, hopes, history, stories, apologies, and love from one generation to another. They preserve who you are, and in your words, all that matters to you. Legacy letters can also be video/audio recording to translate your personal story, values, life lessons… This is transformational to younger generations!
Creative projects- the only limit with these projects is one’s imagination! An EOL doula that specializes in legacy projects can help you create a unique one-of-a-kind project. These projects can be something you gift to family and friends or something you create for your own processing.
Hospice Care and End-of-Life Doulas
“A large proportion of adults in the United States have a limited understanding of hospice care. Nearly 40% of survey respondents in a nationwide study indicated that they did not know that hospice care is designed for patients who are expected to live six months or less, according to research from MorseLife Hospice and Palliative Care”.
End-of-life doulas do not replace hospice, most often, they help recognize the bridge to hospice services where they can continue to provide service to their clients. Some hospices are a brick-and-mortar facility, while others visit their patients in their homes. An EOL doula can provide guidance and support as families are trying to make these difficult decisions.
End-of-Life Doulas as Independent Providers
Most certified, trained doulas are independent providers who set their own fees. They carry their own provider’s insurance and are responsible for their own taxes, and renewal certifications related to their work etc. Please read to learn about the Colorado End-of-Life Collaborative’s mission and vision and how we personally vet our EOL doulas and affiliates.
End-of-Life Doulas a Continuum of Care
According to Henry Fersko-Weiss, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who in 2003, created the first end of life doula program. Fersko-Weiss states that there are three different areas that are addressed by the doulas,
“The first of these involves the dying person reflecting on their life and planning for how they envision the last days of life to unfold. The second centers on holding the space for the plan of those last days, when the body is finally breaking down. The last part of the program begins shortly after the person dies, as family and friends process their experiences of the dying time and begin their work on grief.”
We invite you to read through the Colorado End-of-Life Collaborative website to learn more about who we are and the services we provide. Discover how we provide compassionate care for the end of life for they are dying- and their families.