The time has come. Maybe it is right around the corner. You want to add a doula to your team. Where do you start? How do you decide who is right for you? Here are a few things to consider when choosing a doula.
Choose wisely. A doula can be a trusted companion during a very intimate time of your life and you want to make sure you are comfortable with this person in your home, at your bedside, and with your family and caregivers. There is chemistry in all our relationships including those at end-of-life. Choose a doula you can trust, confide in, and yes, even laugh with during this time of unknowns.
Interview a few doulas if you want to compare personalities and styles. Doulas will vary in personality, availability, fees, and services.
What do you expect from the doula? Are you looking for someone to be available 24/7? Phone support only? A mix of in-person visits and phone/online support? Do you want them at your side during your final moments? Do you want them to work with you to create a legacy project or write letters to your loved ones?
Fees. Ahh, the sticky conversation. Some doulas volunteer their time through community, churches, or hospices. Many are self-employed and have hourly rates as well as package rates. What is included in their packages? How do they bill? What form of payment is preferred? Some doulas offer a complementary first visit. Feel free to ask!
Does the doula have reliable resources in case there is an extended vigil or they have their own family emergency? Most doulas are well-connected to a group of colleagues who can step in if there is a need at the last minute.
Where to find a doula? The Minnesota Death Collaborative has a Professional Member Directory. National End of Life Doula Alliance created a proficiency badge for their members to provide standardization in the field; there is a directory on their site. International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) is a well-known training program and has a membership list. Doulagivers is another good program with a directory. Search online. Ask your hospice provider if they utilize doulas as volunteers. Ask your friends and neighbors.
It is not too soon to contact a doula. I am happy to answer your questions!