Hospice Sees a New Type of Caregiver in ‘Death Doulas’

As hospice services are ramping up across the country, some providers are utilizing so-called death doulas as an extra layer of care.

Doulas are known most commonly for helping women through the childbirth process, but now doulas are starting to serve the older population at the end of life, the Idaho Statesman recently reported.

In Idaho, which has 50 for-profit hospices, hospice care has been a growing industry, but the idea of a doula is only just catching on.


Idaho only has one medically certified doula, Nancy Compton, who was certified by the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA). The nonprofit organization was founded in 2015 to “foster the use of end of life doulas” in various health care settings, including community-based services, hospitals and hospices. It offers program development, training classes and doula certification.

Services that doulas provide involve many aspects of dying—from handling medication to bathing clients and even helping families arrange funeral homes.

“When I’m there, they’re with someone who is experienced and educated in the process of end of life,” Compton told the Statesman.


She began her work as a doula by opening her own business, 11th Hour Care, five years ago, and contracts with hospice providers, according to the newspaper.

Doulas, who are considered an extra layer of care and support for families, are not covered by Medicare in the hospice benefit.

However, because Compton is medically certified through her nursing assistant experience, her services can be considered skilled nursing care under Medicare—giving an outlet for more reimbursement for other providers.

Written by Amy Baxter

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