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End of Life Doula

An End of Life Doula - aka Death Doula, to distinguish this role from a birth doula - is someone who provides non-medical support and advocacy services to the dying person, their families, and those close to them. An end of life doula can provide a broad range of services depending on individual need, including, but is not limited to, the provision of practical and emotional support, resources, assistance, advocacy, and education to a person with a diagnosis or who is aging and their family, friends and those around them.

Doulas are engaged prior to the death of a person, sometimes from the point of receiving a terminal or life-limiting diagnosis, and their role and function are as personal and individual as the dying person, their family, and their circumstances.
As a rule, end of life doulas can be engaged by the person with the diagnosis, someone who is aging, or the family and/or network of that person - and the terms and range of what services are provided are openly discussed and agreed upon in advance.

An End of Life Doula can assist a person or those supporting them by:

  • Knowing what is required so a person can have their choices known and wishes followed.
  • Providing guidance in relation to the legal documents required in the State in which a person is living. Depending on which Australian state a person resides, there are different legal and statutory requirements.
  • Providing a person with information about the many end of life choices a person has, both for living and for after death.
  • Providing support in the fulfilment of a person’s right to choose an end-of-life that is meaningful to them and consistent with their belief system and values (ethnic, cultural, religious, spiritual, or personal).
  • Assist a person to put into place all their plans for the future as they wish.
  • Advocate for and guide a person through what is involved in navigating the medical/hospital/nursing world ensuring that as much knowledge and understanding as possible is available to all people involved.
  • Be a liaison or ‘interpreter’ with a person’s medical and other support teams.
  • Assist with access to and coordination of the support services and other resources a person may need or prefer.
  • Provide emotional support to all involved, before, during and after death and into bereavement.
  • Coordinate services and all aspects of care provision as needs change.
  • Assists in the maintenance of an intimate, peaceful ‘space’ and experience for everyone involved whether medical support is required or not and irrespective of location.
  • Provide unique and tailored support around a person’s place of dying, whether in the home, hospital, palliative care unit, hospice, or residential facility.
  • Provide emotional and spiritual support or facilitate access to specialists who can do so.
  • Encourage Advance Care Directive planning, Enduring Power of Attorney, Enduring Guardian and Will Preparation.
  • Help with the planning and holding of Vigils – both pre and post death if Elected.
  • Assist in creation of Emotional Wills and other legacy documents.
  • Act as a scribe for Biographies and journaling.
  • Offer needs assessment and practical management.
  • Coordinate team management – rostering and briefing.
  • Implement reporting and communication systems.
  • Offer companionship and good listening.
  • Provide respite and in-home care and other practical support.
  • Bereavement support – helping pack things, sell things etc.
To find an End of Life Doula in Australia go to:

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