End of Life Doula Program
Hospice of San Luis Obispo County’s Volunteers are Putting Their Hearts in Service to People at the End of Life
Hospice of San Luis Obispo County (Hospice SLO County) offers an End-of-Life Doula (EOL Doula) Program for in-home clients provided by Doulas trained through the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA). Just as a Birth Doula brings greater comfort and deeper meaning to the process of labor and the beginning of a life, EOL Doulas offer the same during the process of dying. The EOL Doulas serve people and families going through the end stages of a terminal illness when caregivers experience many losses in the patient’s function and role as well as an increase in physical symptoms. This is correspondent with greater demands for their time, energy and fatigue in the face of knowing the end is coming. As with all Hospice SLO County programs, EOL Doula services are provided without charge.
In-Home End-of-Life Doula Services
The EOL Doula program offers a well-rounded approach that supports both a non-medical and medical model by helping the patient and family deal with questions about the dying process, meaning and to help plan for how they want the last days to unfold when their loved one dies at home. The EOL Doulas offer compassionate presence, knowing support, caring touch, and respite for caregivers. They provide simple physical support and utilize guided visualization created with/for the patient to assist in pain and anxiety control. They assist families in creating spiritual and emotional legacies and rituals that honor and recognize the uniqueness of their loved one. EOL Doulas provide guidance and assistance around the clock when the patient is actively dying. And, assist the family to reprocess the dying experience after the death to help guide and support them into the early days of their grief. End-of-Life Doulas help a dying person and their loved ones plan for what they envision as a “good death,” and then assist in facilitating the individual’s planned vigil in their final days.
End-of-Life Doula Services for Hospitals and Long Term Care Facilities
Many hospitals and long term care facilities make substantial efforts to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of their dying patients and families. Often, the needs or expectations of the families far exceed what can be provided within the standard medical treatment model. To address and support this, the EOL Doula program offers a well-rounded approach that supports the medical model by helping the patient and family deal with questions, provides a constant presence insuring someone is with the patient around the clock when they are actively dying.
The purpose of the EOL Doula service is to bring a dying person and their family the kind of intimate and personal care they deserve during the end of a life. Added care to make the last days and hours comfortable, peaceful, and richly meaningful.
“Helping to guide and companion a dying person and those around them through the final days of life has been the most rewarding volunteer activity I’ve ever done—it has changed my life.”
-End of Life Doula