Frequently Asked Questions
About HHA Death Doula Trainings (Death Doula Certificate Program, IPLD Certificate Program, MAiD and the Death Doula, Death Doula Practical Application)
Q: What is the role and scope of practice of a Death Doula?
A: The role of a death doula, also known as an end-of-life doula or death midwife, is to provide emotional, practical, and informational support to individuals who are nearing the end of their lives and their families. While the specific scope of practice can vary depending on local laws and regulations, as well as on an individual practitioner’s training and certifications, some common aspects of a death doula's role are:
Providing Emotional Support: Death doulas offer companionship and emotional guidance to the dying person and their loved ones. They create a safe space for open and honest conversations about death, fears, and concerns. They may provide active listening, validation, and comfort to ease emotional distress.
Helping with Planning and Preparation: Death doulas assist in planning for end-of-life preferences, such as advance care directives, living wills, and do-not-resuscitate orders. They may help individuals explore their values and wishes, facilitate discussions with healthcare providers and family members, and support decision-making processes.
Doing Education and Advocacy: Death doulas provide information about the dying process, including physical, emotional, and spiritual changes that may occur. They may help individuals and families understand medical jargon, treatment options, and available resources. Doulas often act as advocates for the person's wishes, ensuring their choices are respected and communicated effectively.
Offering Comfort: Death doulas focus on enhancing the quality of life during the dying process. They may provide comfort measures such as massage, guided imagery, relaxation techniques, and help manage pain and symptom control. They can offer suggestions for creating a soothing environment and may collaborate with healthcare professionals to ensure holistic care.
Assisting with Rituals and Legacy Work: Death doulas may support individuals in creating meaningful rituals, ceremonies, or legacy projects that reflect their values, beliefs, and personal narratives. They can assist in preserving memories, facilitating conversations, and encouraging life reviews or the recording of personal stories.
Supporting in Grief and Bereavement: Following the death of a loved one, death doulas may continue to provide bereavement support to family members. This can include facilitating grief support groups, offering individual counseling, or connecting individuals with appropriate resources.
Q: Why would someone choose to become a Death Doula?
A: There are many different reasons why someone decides to train as a Death Doula, and is often as individual as each of our own journeys with life and death. For some people, it's because they're already working in deathcare, healthcare, or social justice and wish to grow their experience and ability to end the suffering that those who are dying (and those who love them) experience. Another common reason for taking this path is because someone has witnessed what they would consider a "non-dignified" death, and in honour of their loved one they seek to give comfort and dignity to others.
Q: Why did Home Hospice Association create its own Death Doula Training Program?
A: After trying to bring an American training to Canada, we realized that the future of the Death Doula movement in this country and the role Death Doulas play in Home Hospice Association needed to be our number one priority. And so we created our own trainings and certificate program that allowed us to proudly stand behind and support our graduates.
Q: How much do the Death Doula Certificate Program and the Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula Certificate Program cost?
A: Our Certificate Programs cost $700.00 (inclusive). As a nonprofit Registered Canadian Charity, we rely on the fees collected from our professional development programs to fund our organization's core operations and programs, meaning that every cent of your tuition goes back into promoting accessible compassionate end-of-life care and to increasing public awareness of the important role of death doulas in palliative settings. We do have a scholarship program for our Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula Certificate Program that interested parties may apply for. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about our this scholarship or, if you're able, please consider donating to our scholarship fund.
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 also sometimes used are "Vigil Doulas", "Death Midwives", 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: What is the difference between a Death Doula and an Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula (IPLD)?
A: The only difference between a Death Doula and an Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula is the age of client that the doula is specifically trained to support. Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doulas are trained to support people with the loss of a pregnancy or a baby aged 1 year or less. 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 Personal Support Workers (PSWs)?
A: We strongly feel 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 provide end-of-life training for PSWs still in training. Additionally, HHA is developing a pilot project for a series of end-of-life training workshops for PSWs who wish to provide specialized care in a particular setting (Home or Long Term Care, for example).
Q: Why would a PSW want to also have HHA's Death Doula Certification?
A: The question really should be, why wouldn’t a PSW want to also have the Death Doula Certification! 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 emotional and spiritual 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.
Q: Where do Home Hospice Association Death Doulas practice - only in Ontario/Canada?
A: HHA has trained Death Doulas who went on to practice all over Canada. Before we offered virtual online trainings, we even trained a family doctor from Mexico who traveled to Canada to complete the Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula program. While a few content points in the curriculum are specific to a Canadian or Ontarian context (e.g. MAiD laws in Canada or legalities of funeral practices in Ontario), most of the topics covered are transferable across geographical contexts.
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 works with 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 a 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 virtually) 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 without increasing tuition fees.
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