Karen Hendrickson, end of life doula. (Contributed)

On Community: Introducing end-of-life doulas

Helping people live in Maple Ridge

Death care is a holistic approach.

We see death as a process that can span over months or even years rather than an event. Like a birth doula supports women during the labour process, end-of-life doulas support a person during the dying process.

This support is specific to that person’s needs, beliefs, and desires.

An end-of-life doula’s work includes many things: initiating pre-planning conversations; helping identify and capture priorities; providing information on available resources and education; assisting with creating and documenting advance care plans; advocacy and facilitation; legacy stories and living celebrations.

The work of the doula is driven by the needs and desires of the client.

With an aging senior population and current demands on our medical system, health authorities recognize there is a gap in this support for patients and their families at the end of life.

The work of a doula fills this gap and significantly contributes to the work currently being done by palliative care teams, creating a complete care network for the patient and families.

Through education and advocacy, a doula empowers clients by starting the conversation about death, embracing the dying process early, and aligning client needs, wishes and expectations, to significantly improve the quality and dignity of their end-of-life journey.

The End of Life Doula Association of Canada has a vision to raise the standard of end-of-life care in Canada and promote the profession.

Membership requires a standard on completed and continuing education, and commitment to a standard scope of practice. Through membership and training based on need and recommendations from the Ministry of Health, health authorities and outside agencies such as Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Association, they are making great strides and working hard to achieve this goal.

As a community of professionals, the association will continue to advocate for end-of-life doulas to become part of the palliative care team.

Also, we will continue advocating for more funding for end-of-life care, so that regardless of finances, everyone will be eligible to receive a doula.

Partnering with hospices, funeral directors, digital legacy experts and others within the death industry enables a doula to provide resources and supports where needed.

You may find Jennifer Mallmes and Karen Hendrickson, both with the association, hosting information seminars and workshops within the community.

Through education, they are committed to creating opportunities to start the conversation on death and dying and enable you to build strong end-of-life plans and are well prepared for your own journey.

– contributed by Jennifer Mallmes and Karen

Hendrickson, with the End of Life Doula Association of Canada, in coordination with the Maple Ridge-Pitt

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