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Pro tip series: Do you know how to choose your end of life doula?

Looking for an end of life doula but don't know how to go about finding and choosing one? Here are some handy tips and thinking points to help you better navigate the style and range of practitioners on offer.
There are a lot of end of life doulas out there because the field is growing really quickly. However, you can make good and appropriate choices if you think about what you want from your end of life doula.
  1. Find someone who has similar values to you. The last thing you need when you are supporting someone at end of life (or going through it yourself) is someone who is trying to convince you that they have all the answers to do it right while you are doing all the things wrong. If you don't want chanting and incense you don't have to have them, and you also don't need to justify your own needs.

  2. Make sure the doula is someone you like. Your doula will see you and your close friends/family at very vulnerable times, and you don't want to be distracted by thinking 'I really don't want this person here'.

  3. Make sure the doula is someone you trust - for similar reasons as point 1 - because your doula will see you and your close friends/family at very vulnerable times and usually in personal spaces. And you don't want to be distracted by thinking 'I really don't feel good with this person' or 'can I leave this person alone in a room/my home and feel safe?'

  4. Referrals are useful, so ask around. Do you have a friend or family member who has worked with a particular end of life doula before? Was their experience good or bad, and what did they like best about this doula?

  5. Shop around, and then ask questions of your short list of candidates - if they won't offer answers they may not be a good fit for you (see point 2).

  6. Insist on a terms and conditions or agreement of services document. This needs to include fees (if applicable), how you will communicate with each other and during what hours, and what is included in a package if that is what you are purchasing (10, 20, or 30 hours are common) - and what is not included and will be charged as an extra. This makes boundaries clear and helps protect both the doula and you as a client - and yes, you need one of these even if the doula is working pro bono.

If you would like to talk about how a death doula can offer support, advocacy and humour when you need it most please email me at info@gdep.com.au - let's talk.

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