Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is the scope of practice for a Death Doula?
A:  Specifically the scope of practice of a Death Doula is to provide emotional, practical and "spiritual" support in the preparation and subsequent experience of the dying of each individual they serve. The word 'doula', when correlated to the work of a birthing doula, really does bring to light the fullness of the role. Just as the female body naturally knows how to give birth, our bodies know how to naturally die. Therefore the role of the Death Doula is to support the process for the person dying and those in their presence. Death is a noble and honourable privilege to bare witness to, and this work is often an incredible journey for Death Doulas and those they will ultimately be able to serve. 

Q:  Why did Home Hospice Association create its own Death Doula Training Program? 
A:  After attempting to bring an American training to our country, we realized that the future of the Death Doula movement and the role Death Doulas play in Home Hospice Association needed to be our number one priority.  Therefore, we created our own training and certification program that allowed us to proudly stand behind and support its graduates.

Q:  Is there a difference between a Death Doula and an End of Life Doula? 
A:  There is no difference between a Death Doula and an End of Life Doula. Other names that are often used are Vigil Doulas and Thanadoulas.  We call our graduates Death Doulas because normalizing dying and death is a key value in our charitable mission and the first way to meet this mission is to use plain language.

Q:  Why would a PSW want to also have the Death Doula Certification? 
A:  The question really should be why wouldn’t a PSW want to also have the Death Doula Certification! PSW’s (Personal Support Workers) are already trained and practicing practical and physical care for their clients / patients along an entire illness journey. To have the expertise to also provide the spiritual, emotional care for their clients at end of life would make a PSW who is interested in palliative care a top candidate for any agency or organization.  What a great way to win out over “the competition” when applying for a new job.

Q:  What is there different between a Death Doula and an Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula?
A:  The only difference between a Death Doula and an Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula is the age of client the “doula” is specifically trained to support. Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doulas are trained to support the parents of a baby dying in utero and up to the first year of age. Death Doulas may take over when someone has reached one year of age or beyond. That said, both professionals are qualified to care for children between the ages of one and two.

Q:  Does Home Hospice Association offer end of life training to PSW’s? 
A:  It is our strong conviction that the best training we can offer a PSW is our Death Doula or Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula training. That said, we have partnered with educational institutes such as Georgian College to help provide training while a PSW is in training. Additionally, HHA is developing, as a pilot project, a series of end of life training workshops for those PSW’s who may wish to provide specialized care in a particular setting (Home or Long Term Care for example).

Q: Where do Home Hospice Association Death Doulas practice?  Just in Toronto or are they all over Ontario or Canada? 
A:  HHA has trained Death Doulas and Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doulas from all over Canada.  As a matter of fact, we even welcomed a Family Doctor from Mexico who traveled to Canada to complete the Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula Training. While, before COVID hit, we had been working to bring our training to communities across Canada, it is a true testament to our training and our Doulas commitment to consider people have traveled from coast (Halifax) to coast (BC) to become part of our amazing movement.

Q: Why does someone choose to become an HHA Death Doula or End of Life Doula? 
A:  The reasons are myriad and likely as individual as each of our own journey’s with life and death.  For most, it is because they are already working in the death care / health care or social justice industry and wish to grow their experience and ability to end the suffering that those who are dying (and those who love them) experience.  Equally as common is to have someone wish to do this work because of witnessing usually what would be described (by them) as a non-dignified death.  In honour and legacy of their loved one, each seeks to give that comfort and dignity to others.

Q: How much does a Death Doula or End of Life Doula make in Canada? 
A:  Because most Doulas create a professional practice or add to their current scope of practice as an alternative/integrative practitioner, they set their own fee structure. Home Hospice Association, through the building of partnerships with traditional palliative care and social justice agencies, is working to have HHA Certified Death Doulas included (and paid) as part of the interdisciplinary care team serving the community needs of our dying.  When an HHA Death Doula or Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula is offered to a client of HHA’s or one of our community partners, an honorarium is set and paid for through our fundraising efforts.

Q: Why does HHA require their Death Doulas to complete a Certification in addition to the weekend training?  ​
A:  As you can imagine, the amount of content and information sharing to be fully prepared do this work is far more than could ever be communicated in two and one half days. Not to mention, when you bring together a group of like minded, heart centred and passionate individuals, the time spent together (whether physically in person or by virtual training) needs to include lots of time for story sharing, group discussion and questions. The HHA certification process allows us to extend the training beyond that one weekend. Most importantly, it allows us to extend the training at no additional charge (tuition) to our participants. The Death Doula and Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula movement is just beginning, and as a result the long term financial sustainability of our professionals is in its infancy.  Therefore, finding a way to expand the training beyond the weekend in a way that did not require further financial investment was very important.

Q: Why did HHA create an online / virtual Death Doula and Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula Training Program? 
A:  The answer is that we recognized that COVID has uncovered two critical needs; the need to serve those who want to serve and the need to find alternative ways to help end the suffering of our dying and those who love them in a manner that feels safe for everyone. The idea of providing virtual training and virtual support feels completely counter intuitive to ending suffering, especially when suffering is often related to the fear that many of us have; the fear of dying alone. The reality, however, is that during these unprecedented times, we have to be creative so that we can do everything in our power to ensure our dying are cared for in the best ways possible. Home Hospice Association has been working on ways in which we can support during this time of COVID and our virtual training gives us a real life example of how this works.

Q: Do I have to pay to take the Death Doula or Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula training? 
A:  Home Hospice Association charges $500.00 for our training weekends. Because this is a professional development program, we are required to charge a fee.  We do have a scholarship program for our Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula Training program that interested parties may apply for. Please email if you would like more information about our Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula Training scholarship program.

If we have not answered your question, please feel free to email and we will do our best to return to you with your answers in a timely manner.