The Power of the Doulagivers Specialist

In 2017, Time Magazine dubbed Death Doulas as one of the newest career choices blossoming in the United States. Maybe you’ve heard of the term Death Doula (or End of Life Doula) before, or perhaps it’s a foreign concept that you are just now hearing about. For those of you who haven’t heard of this profession before, a Death Doula is a non-medical person trained to care for someone holistically (physically, emotionally and spiritually) at the end of life.

The professional End of Life Doula has become very popular recently – and for good reason. More Americans are catching on to the exorbitant costs of end of life care and are straying from the conventional institutions of yesterday and opting for higher quality of life options. By hiring a death doula in conjunction with hospice, a person is granted the ability to spend the end of their life at home or in another comfortable, familiar location that is preferred. This is a very appealing practice given that more than half of Americans currently die in a hospital or nursing home – environments that are void of personalized tranquility.

We are entering a time where speaking about death and dying is becoming less taboo for people. There has been a significant rise in the number of Americans seeking practical and effective ways to ensure their end of life goes as smoothly as possible. But are Death Doulas really the key to reshaping the way we die in America?

According to a 2018 U.S. Census Bureau report, in the year 2035 “there will be 78 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18.” Which means, for the first time in the country’s history, the elderly population will outnumber that of children. This historical demographic shift is going to lead to a host of unique public health challenges in America.

We know there is going to be an unprecedented rise in the number of older adults requiring assistance services and inevitably, end of life care services, over the next several decades… but why can’t they rely on doctors and institutions for their care? Besides the current trend of Americans desiring to stay at home rather than residential care facilities at the end of life, there is another big problem facing America’s aging population – a palliative care physician shortage.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects that the shortage in medical end of life care doctors remains real and significant, with a shortfall of up to 122,000 physicians by the year 2032. Likewise, a survey conducted by Duke Researchers using 2018 workforce data of specialty hospice and palliative care clinicians concluded a shortage of these professionals is approaching and will have a strong impact on those eligible for Medicare health insurance.

“All scenarios demonstrated a worsening of the patient-to-physician ratio for at least 25 years (2020–2045), due to an inadequate physician supply,” according to these researchers. The data analysis estimated that there is one available palliative care physician per 808 eligible patients. What does this mean for Americans in the near future? Quite literally that mainstream medical care services may not even be a practical option for those who would prefer them at end of life. The convergence of these two issues (a rapid increase in the elder population and shortage of end of life care physicians) means that America is on the brink of an eldercare crisis. The swelling demographic of elder Americans is going to create multifaceted challenges within communities around the country. To combat this issue, there is going to be a necessity for new and innovative solutions. This is where the End of Life Doula comes into the picture.

When a person is entering their last phase of life, an End of Life Doula helps guide this individual through their end of life process, whatever it may be. They also offer emotional support to grieving families and loved ones during and after death, assisting the family to “reenter life after loss.” As the population of older adults in America increases, so too will the demand for related services and care. We know that the use of End of Life Doulas will be extremely important to these older adults when they are nearing the last stages of life, but what about before then? This is where the power of the Doulagivers Specialist lies. A Certified Doulagivers Specialist is trained in three crucial areas of care (Eldercare, Care Consulting, and End of Life Doula services). This three-pronged approach provides the most complete and effective skillset to limiting the impact of the imminent eldercare crisis currently facing America.

As an Eldercare Doula, the Doulagivers Specialist acts and offers the services akin to the geriatric care manager. After assessing the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the patient on the initial visit, the Specialist will continue to assess acute safety issues of the client on each checkup. The Specialist then conducts an ongoing care plan, monitoring the need for and arranging for assistance needed in the home, including home health aides, personal care routines and companion care. As an Eldercare Doula, the Specialist will be responsible for advocating for and accompanying their client to all important consultations such as medical, social services, legal and financial appointments. The Doulagivers Specialist will help arrange these appointments by forming a recommended resource list within the client’s community covering all agencies, social/community services and other programs available for the client to utilize. The Specialist may also refer their client to specialized experts as needed, such as Eldercare Attorneys, Medical Providers and Psychologists. The main goal of the Eldercare Doula service is to provide regular visits to ensure that the client is safe, happy, eating well, and having regular socialization. This portion of the Doulagivers Specialist’s role is where they build the trust with their client and establish a strong relationship with them.

Once the trust has been built with the client, the Doulagivers Specialist can segue into the role of a Care Consultant. This is a crucial step in making the end of life as pleasant an experience as possible for people – one that is far too often overlooked. This is where the Specialist helps their client plan ahead. With all the knowledge the client will ever need, the Doulagivers Specialist can assist them with making subjective choices about the way they would like to be cared for in the future and end of their life, as well as where and by whom. The Specialist will assist the client with filling out and organizing all vital documents to secure their wishes for physical care and financial affairs including: Advance Directives, Healthcare Proxy, Wills/Trusts, and Power of Attorney. Once these forms are completed, the Specialist will be responsible for distributing these documents to all necessary parties (family members, healthcare proxies, medical doctors, attorneys, etc.) As a Care Consultant, the Specialist will arrange and mediate family meetings, sharing the client’s wishes for aging and end of life. They will allow the family and loved ones to ask questions and educate them on all decisions and terminology. In doing so, the Doulagivers Specialist can provide their clients with a much more comprehensive and effective end of life care plan than an individual without this knowledge base could complete on their own – for a fraction of the cost.  

Now that the Doulagivers Specialist has developed a relationship with their client and constructed a comprehensive care plan for them ahead of time, their End of Life Doula services are the final piece of the puzzle. When the time comes, the Specialist is already established with the patient and has expressed the patient’s wishes to the family and loved ones, allowing the Specialist to be immediately available to switch roles into end of life care. Remember that this does not end with the passing of the patient, but with the bereavement process of the loved ones. It is a beautiful, all-encompassing solution to providing the highest quality of life to our elders and their families.

Is this the career opportunity you have been waiting for?

Starting a new business is no easy feat and in an emerging profession that most people don’t yet know about, it can be difficult to secure fulltime work and pay. The Specialist Package from Doulagivers is the best way for a Doula to start their own business and ensure that they have a range of useful knowledge and services to provide. This allows the Doula to create a steady source of income for themselves when they are not actively in “the space” of a patient nearing their final moments. Having the ability to offer Eldercare services and Care Consulting services also allows the Doula to work without feeling pressured to take on patient after patient, potentially exposing themselves to physical, mental, and/or emotional exhaustion.

The elder care crisis is upon us and it will take a three-fold response to solve it. Having worked in the end of life space as a hospice and oncology nurse, I know how most end of life experiences today are leaving a lifetime of pain and regret for families and loved ones. How did we get to a place where a natural part of our life journey is so dysfunctional? Coming in to support someone at the very end of life as a death doula is wonderful – but it will not change the present overall crippling culture of death. To do that, we need to start educating and discussing our aging and end of life preferences and choices way before we ever get there.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN CEO and Founder of Doulagivers

Training as a Doulagivers Specialist and establishing your business services now within your community will put you well ahead of the curve and in a great position as the need for these services skyrockets over time. A time when the term End of Life Doula will become as common as Mortician in American households (we don’t necessarily strike up conversations about them regularly, but we know what they do and when to contact them when we require their services) is only a matter of years away. To truly help our aging population and offer a sensible, systematic, and practical solution to America’s eldercare crisis, it starts before the end of life. That is what sets the Doulagivers Specialist apart and what makes them so powerful in the emerging field of non-medical end of life professionals.

For more information about becoming a Certified Doulagivers Specialist, visit: www.Doulagivers.com

The New Personalized Guide for End-of-Life Planning is Here

Planning for end-of-life is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable things to do for many people. It is usually the last thing on our minds when we are healthy and more concerned about who will be playing in the Super Bowl this year or if we forgot to call someone on their birthday. Unfortunately, this lack of planning (or last-minute planning) is usually what leads to an extremely stressful, overly-expensive and less than ideal situation when the time comes.

What most people say when they’re confronted with the idea of planning for their end-of-life:

I’ll do it later” – It’s easy to procrastinate planning for end-of-life when you’re healthy today. “Among North Americans age 65 and over, 54% of them say they are still in good health and that is why they don’t feel the need to plan for end-of-life at this time. The remaining 46% said that they trust their loved ones to handle their end-of-life arrangements for them.” – (Research survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc.)

Speaking about end-of-life is uncomfortable” – Many people feel uneasy when it comes to the idea of speaking about end-of-life with their loved ones. Ironically, it tends to be the younger adults and children of those planning for end of life who avoid these conversations more than those who are getting their affairs in order. “87% of seniors say discussing their plans for their final years made them feel closer to their adult children.” – (Research survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc.)

I already did it” – Some people think because they have a will and an advance directive in place already that they are done with their end-of-life planning. Although it is great to have these in place and puts you well ahead of the curve, it is not so cut and dry. There are plenty of other documents that need to be filled out to ensure your end-of-life goes the way you want it to and even these documents need to be updated periodically as our desires and feelings change over time. You should make a point of updating your end-of-life plans and documents, as well as having ongoing conversations with your loved ones and financial planners about this topic.

Does any of that sound familiar? That’s okay. Few subjects are as confusing as end-of-life planning to the average person. With so many things to consider and all the services and options available to you, it can be a real headache trying to figure out where to start and what you would want for yourself. However, waiting until things are critical to begin this process will create so many unnecessary burdens for yourself and your loved ones.

Advanced care planning means thinking and talking about how you want to be cared for in the final years and months of your life. It’s important to plan ahead so that you can gain peace of mind and say your goodbyes without worrying about anything else besides your comfort and your loved ones. By planning ahead, you will also make the financial, legal and practical issues that arise from illness and death much easier for your family to deal with.

Planning for end-of-life used to be a very time-consuming, expensive and burdensome ordeal. But thanks to Doulagivers®, the Internationally recognized leader in end-of-life education and care, it doesn’t have to be. They have recently released a new course designed to walk individuals through the end-of-life planning process. This course is very appropriately named The Peace of Mind Planner Course.

The Peace of Mind Planner Course is a complete A-Z planning guide that includes everything from pre-planning your end-of-life wishes in all 5 categories, (Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual and Financial) including the necessary paperwork to ensure your wishes are upheld, all the way through the end-of-life process up until celebrating your loved one after death. The Peace of Mind Planner Course is a holistic approach to covering all 5 of these categories to ensure that you have complete peace of mind with how you want to be remembered, celebrated and honored at the end of your life. This course encompasses all the necessary components of what is needed for an end-of-life experience that is financially the best, emotionally the best and environmentally the best.

Suzanne B. O’Brien RN, Founder & Creator of Doulagivers®, made this course so that everyone can have access to a guidebook for end-of-life planning. It walks you through all the personal components to think about for yourself and how to address your concerns and desires with your loved ones. It includes all the pertinent resources you would need to legally protect your belongings and your end-of-life wishes. You will be walked through the options available to you for post-humous celebration and funeral arrangements. You will learn the most cost-effective ways of securing all of your end-of-life needs so that you can potentially save thousands of dollars and hours of stress for yourself, your family and your friends.

If this course sounds right for you, you should visit the Doulagivers® website here and register for their FREE Webinar (Top 5 Regrets of Dying Patients That Lead to Difficult End-of-Life Experiences 60 Minute Live Webinar Training)

This webinar includes a special discounted offer for the full Peace of Mind Planner Course at the end, as well as a lot of valuable information regarding end-of-life planning – for free!

In this free webinar, Suzanne will share with you the 5 top regrets of dying patients that lead to difficult end-of-life experiences and how to avoid them. When an end-of-life experience does not go well, it not only affects the dying person, but it can have a lifelong impact on their family and loved ones as well. In this free webinar, you will learn what patients wish they had done differently and what you can do NOW to achieve peace of mind for the end-of-life. Hear firsthand stories from patients themselves. Find out what people are most worried about regarding the end of life and how to relieve these concerns. Suzanne B. O’Brien RN will also answer questions LIVE at the end of the webinar.

Remember, end-of-life choices are subjective. It does not matter what you choose, but you need to make informed choices. The families of people who have done all their end-of-life planning say that they have a 90% better experience than those who did not.

This webinar is held monthly by Suzanne B. O’Brien RN. To find the next one available, visit their website: www.Doulagivers.com 

See what others have said about the Doulagivers® Peace of Mind Planner Course:

“This course had the content that I wish I had when I was dealing with my aunt’s death. She had not planned anything, and I felt absolutely lost.” – Laura W.

“I thought I had all the bases covered with my end-of-life planning, and am now in the midst of re-writing my ADR, Living Will and my Last Will and Testament.” – Beth T.

“This course is well organized and covers a wide breadth of information. It gave me an excellent blend of value-based topics to contemplate along with great factual information to develop my knowledge base.” – Jamie S.

“I would definitely recommend the Peace of Mind Planner course to other people as it is a very thorough explanation of how to prepare for end-of-life matters.” – Trish G.

“There is so much vital information shared on all aspects and areas of life – some I never considered before!” – Denise H.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive, also known as personal directive, advance healthcare directive, medical directive or advance decision, is a legal document which allows a person to choose and define what actions should be taken regarding their health if they are no longer able to communicate due to illness or incapacity. When you complete an advance directive, you are communicating your wishes to your family and friends, and your healthcare providers. An advance directive helps avoid confusion and conflict over your future care, especially if there comes a time when you cannot express your wishes yourself. These are tough decisions to make and may be very uncomfortable to think about, but avoiding them now will make things much harder for yourself and your loved ones later-on.

Advance directive is the general term that refers to various documents that usually include a living will/instruction directive and a healthcare proxy/healthcare power of attorney. It’s important to remember that you can make any changes you want to these documents at any time. You can change your wishes or name someone else as your healthcare proxy whenever you would like. Laws surrounding advance directives, living wills, healthcare proxies and other parts of advance planning vary from state to state. You do not require a lawyer to create an advance directive, but if you have any questions, they should be answered by a lawyer.

What is a living will?

The living will was the first form of advance directive ever proposed. In 1969 it was proposed as a way for an individual to express his or her healthcare desires when they are no longer able to communicate them presently. Because this form of “will” was to be used while an individual was still alive (but no longer able to speak for themselves) it was named the “living will.” A living will provides instructions to healthcare providers and caregivers to follow regarding medical treatment. It may prohibit certain burdensome treatments. A living will may also be used to express the wishes of accepting or rejecting food or water, if supplied artificially by tubes or other medical devices. Living wills are only used when a person is unable to give consent or refusal due to incapacity. An example of a statement you may find in a living will is: “If I suffer an incurable, irreversible illness, disease, or condition and my attending physician determines that my condition is terminal, I direct that life-sustaining measures that would serve only to prolong my dying be withheld or discontinued.” Living wills reflect a moment in time when they are completed and therefore may require regular updating to ensure that your current wishes are upheld.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

Most living wills are limited in scope and may fail to fully address problems and needs in the event that a patient becomes incapacitated. Because a living will may be insufficient by itself in addressing important healthcare decisions, you are encouraged to also complete a healthcare proxy appointment. These documents allow an individual to appoint another person to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they are ever incapable of making their wishes known. This appointed healthcare proxy is essentially granted the same rights to request or refuse treatment that the patient would have if still capable of making their own healthcare decisions. The most notable benefit of having a healthcare proxy is that they are able to make decisions in real-time as actual circumstances arise, whereas the living will is framed in hypothetical situations.

The Five Wishes

Another option available to people is the Five Wishes document. There are nearly 30 million people using this document right now and it has been translated into 28 different languages. It meets statutory criteria in 42 states. It is unique in that it takes a holistic approach to advance planning by addressing a person’s medical, personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well as their comfort and care choices. The Five Wishes document is broken down as follows:

Wish 1: The Person I want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t (assigning your healthcare proxy)

Wish 2: The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want (your living will)

Wish 3: How Comfortable I Want to Be (pain management, personal grooming and bathing instructions, amongst other things are addressed in this section)

Wish 4: How I Want People to Treat Me (topics such as if you would like to be kept at home and if it is okay for people to pray at your beside are addressed in this section)

Wish 5: What I Want My Loved Ones to Know (this section deals with forgiveness, how you would like to be remembered and final wishes for funeral/memorial plans)

The Importance of End of Life Planning

End of life planning can be difficult, but it is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself and your family. When decision-making is placed on families when a loved one is actively dying or after they have passed, it can lead to so much unnecessary strife. This is a time for family and friends to support one another and grieve. When everyone is made aware of that person’s wishes and there is a designated healthcare proxy, it alleviates the guess work. It relieves a lot of tension.

Doulagivers Care Consultants

Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to do this on their own. The International Doulagivers Institute offers a course so that you can become a professional in end of life planning and help individuals ensure that their wishes are known and honored ahead of time. Doulagivers Care Consultants are trained to help individuals create a personal plan for the future, which includes their advance directive, a living plan, and even family mediation.

If you think you may be interested in an end of life planning career, The Doulagivers Care Consultant course may be for you. For more information, visit The International Doulagivers Institute website here