Bioethics Blogs

End of Life Doulas

Birth doulas have been supporting women through childbirth since the 1980s. In 2003, Henry Fersko-Weiss, co-founder of the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), adapted the philosophy, tools, and approaches used by birth doulas to create a program with a new kind of doula, an end-of-life doula, to support and guide people through the dying process. This new approach brings deeper meaning and greater comfort to dying people and their loved ones.

That first program created was highly successful and became the model for two additional hospice programs Fersko-Weiss built in New Jersey. Through these programs, hundreds of people have had the benefit of end-of-life doula services in the final days of life. In addition, the INELDA end-of-life doula principles and techniques have been presented in public trainings at the Open Center in New York City and the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Toronto, Canada.

INELDA, an international nonprofit organization, is the next step in the evolution of the end-of-life care approach. INELDA is dedicated to helping hospices build end-of-life doula programs. It is committed to setting the standard for end-of-life doulas and supporting them in their professional life. INELDA will also continue to research and develop new tools and techniques to further advance best practices in end-of-life care.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.