A Compassionate Presence
Individuals with a terminal illness, their loved ones and caregivers can often feel isolated and fearful of what is to come. They may all be overwhelmed by symptoms, medications and long hours without rest, despite having the services of hospice team members. Hospice doulas provide a caring presence, helping loved ones bring meaning to the experience of dying by being "in the moment" with them.
You can be a Hospice Doula
Individuals who volunteer as hospice doulas have all types of life experiences, some from their jobs, others from their personal lives. They are police officers and social workers as well as stay-at-home moms and retired grandfathers. While each hospice doula has a different personal and professional background, they all share an interest in supporting others emotionally and spiritually during a patient’s last weeks, days and moments of life. No health care experience is necessary.
Where and What Hospice Doulas Learn
Holy Name Medical Center provides free training for individuals who would like to volunteer as doulas. Volunteers receive 22 hours of training that teaches techniques for facilitated guided visualization. The instructions also include methods on how to establish rituals, create spiritual and emotional legacies and provide support. Interested individuals can attend a free presentation to learn more about volunteering as a hospice doula. Call 201-541-5980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Doula training is provided by Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW, who pioneered the concept of the end-of-life doula and founded the first such program in the U.S. Mr. Weiss has more than 20 years of experience as a hospice social worker and volunteer manager.
Where Hospice Doulas Work
In addition to volunteering at Villa Marie Claire, hospice doulas trained at Holy Name Medical Center also work in the community – visiting in a patient’s private home, nursing home or assisted living facility. Like other members of the hospice team, they serve Bergen County and parts of Hudson, Passaic and Essex counties.