A doula is a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother during childbirth. The word doula comes from ancient Greek and translates to “the servant.” An end-of-life doula provides non-medical care for people who are dying.
B-Home Services and Supplies is a department at Black River Memorial Hospital (BRMH). They offer hospice, homecare, palliative care, and home medical equipment and supplies.
Having doulas as part of the team is a welcome addition to the hospice program. Dena Graff, B-Home Services and Supplies director said, “We currently have trained volunteers and doulas that will spend time with patients who don’t have family with them at the end of their journey. They also support the caregivers. When a hospice patient is in their final days, a doula can stay with the patient for long periods of time where caregivers often cannot.”
An end-of-life doula can provide vigil sitting, respite care, planning, care coordination, and massage. A doula can help with legacy projects such as putting together a collage of photos and keepsakes or completing a journal to give to loved ones. They will offer to write letters to family and friends to help resolve old issues, help a patient meditate, read, play music, or other activities to provide peace.
Black River Memorial Hospital has hospice volunteers who received certification to serve as an end-of-life doula. The volunteers feel they are a bridge between the patient and their family, helping to ease their fears and help communicate the patient’s wishes.
Kathy Hosler, a hospice volunteer, provides therapy animals if the patient desires them. She said, “Having a therapy animal near someone creates a very peaceful and calming environment. It actually helps release endorphins that can help relieve pain.” Kathy and other hospice doulas agree, caring for those who are dying is an incredible experience and a privilege.
For more information regarding doulas and end-of-life care, please contact B-Home Services and Supplies at 715-284-3662.
Kathy Hosler, BRMH hospice volunteer and end-of-life doula, holds Snickers, a therapy animal.
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