A Death Doula or End-of-Life Doula model was derived from that of a Birth Doula.
There is no set definition of an End-of-Life Doula. While there are many ways a Doula can be trained, there is no licensure or over-arching governance of the profession.
An End-of -Life Doula provides emotional support, non-medical care and works with the whole family. A Death Doula can guide a person and his/her family through the dying process, be an active presence in a vigil and will assist the family with early grief and grief processing.
Astral Dragonfly operates on a three phase model of care that has been designed by INELDA. The three phases are:
- Summing up and Planning
- Life Review and Legacy
- Planning for Last Days
- The Vigil
- Holding Space for the Plan
- Guiding Through the Process
- Reprocessing and Early Grief
- Retelling the Story
- Exploring the Nature of Grief
Astral Dragonfly has also adopted the Core Components of the Doula Model of Care, as described by NEDA (National End-of-Life Doula Alliance).
Core Components of the Doula Model of Care: 6 Guiding Principles
- Non-medical support. Doulas refrain from performing any clinical or medicalized tasks.
- Non-judgmental support. The Doula does not impose her/his values on the client such as acting on biases in favor of one method.
- Family-centered approach. The individual and their family form the unit of care. Doulas do not take the place of partners, family members or other care providers.
- Holistic care. Doulas recognize the biopsychosocial and spiritual aspects of the whole person and provide services in the context of this understanding.
- Empowerment. Doulas promote informed decision-making and foster maximum self-determination for the individual and family.
- Team members. Doulas are team players with a special role.
Types of Support Provided by Doulas
- Presence. Good listener, witness, calming influence, nurturing, support for troubleshooting challenges.
- Emotional support. Always part of the Doula’s role.
- Information sharing. Education as needed and desired, non-biased and evidence-based.
- Proactive guidance. Anticipating needs and making a plan.
- Resources and referrals. Making referrals to appropriate community resources and care providers, thereby increasing access to all available services.
- Comfort measures and physical support. Can include hands-on comfort techniques, help with positioning, visualization, use of the breath, and so on.
- Logistical support. Can include organizing household help, finding someone to run errands, arranging transportation to medical appointments and other logistics.
Excerpted from The Doula Business Guide: How to Succeed as a Birth, Postpartum or End-of-Life Doula, 3rd Edition by Patty Brennan.