Death Doula or Hospice Care?

Posted by Hospice by the Bay on Wed February 4, 2015 in Talking About Hospice

A recent New York Times article highlighted the work of “death doulas,” people who work with the terminally ill and their families to prepare for the end-of-life. Some of these doulas volunteer their services — which can include help with funeral arrangements, organizing paperwork or just sitting with the dying — while others charge a range of fees.

While we applaud efforts to open the conversation about care for the terminally ill, Hospice by the Bay has focused on providing these and other services to patients and their families for 40 years. And, as part of the Medicare Hospice Benefit, we provide them with no direct charge to patients. It’s also important to note that while licensed agencies such as Hospice by the Bay are subject to strict government oversight and audits, death doulas go largely unregulated.

It is certain that death doulas can’t comprise the wide range of services and collective expertise that Hospice by the Bay has amassed over four decades of ground-breaking care.

More than Palliative Care

Many people still believe that hospice services include only those provided by our primary nurses and medical directors. In fact, our Care Teams include LVN’s, social workers, home health aides and spiritual support counselors who provide an entire range of services for patients and families. Here are just a few:

  • Advance health care planning
  • Navigating government medical benefits
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Access to community resources
  • Practical training for family caregivers
  • Creating a plan for support at the patient’s time of death
  • Help with planning funeral and memorial services
  • Grief counseling

In addition, our dedicated Direct Care volunteers provide:

  • Companionship to our patients
  • Needed relief for family caregivers
  • Assistance with a hobby, letter writing or scrapbook
  • Complementary care such as energy work (Reiki), therapeutic music and animal-assisted social visits
  • Transportation to appointments
  • Help with household errands
  • Vigil presence for actively dying patients

So, the choice is simple: Hospice by the Bay provides more services, more expertise and a comprehensive team approach to end-of-life care — with no direct charge to patients or families. That’s peace of mind for everyone.

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