Let me help answer the most obvious ones…
What does “doula” mean?
Doula is Greek in origin and it means “woman who serves.” However, nowadays, more than just women are getting into doula work, which I think is totally awesome!
How is a doula different than a hospice volunteer or a home health aide?
We are there to offer a calming presence and emotional support to the client, their partners and family members. We are to there to offer non-biased, evidence-based information and empower our clients to make informed decisions that are right for them. We anticipate emotional, spiritual, informational and physical needs and make plans accordingly. We are generalists usually with some relevant specialties (ex. law, nursing, massage therapy experience). We are prepared to make referrals to community resources and assist with making connections. We offer non-medical comfort measures and physical support. Lastly, we offer logistical support such as family respite, meal preparation, household help, errand running, etc… Home health aides fulfill basic personal and health care needs whereas hospice volunteers primarily companion the dying but are usually available for a limited number of hours.
Are doulas certified or licensed?
End of life doula work is a relatively new, unregulated field. A few states have passed legislation licensing birth doulas; however, there are currently no regulations for end of life doulas. This is a rather exciting time for the field because it’s in its infancy and is being shaped by those doing the work. Doulas have the flexibility to offer services that are specifically tailored to their unique skill sets instead of being prescribed by a certification board.
Are doulas covered under health insurance or Medicaid?
Since some states are requiring licensure of birth doulas, those states are also enabling their services to be eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. I’m hoping this trend continues and that insurance companies do the math and realize doulas save them a considerable amount of money. Our services keep patients in their homes and out of the hospital. This cost savings alone is worth reimbursing.
How far am I willing to travel?
Well, thanks to video chats, many things can be accomplished with just a phone these days, which is wonderful. If hands-on care is needed or work that requires me to leave the Central New York area, than I’ll be more than willing to consider that on a case by case basis.
What do I charge?
I currently am operating on a sliding fee scale based on the honor system. (Thanks to The Philly Death Doula Collective for developing the following sliding fee scale. I totally lifted it from their website because it’s so great and I like to give credit where it’s due.)
- I frequently stress about meeting basic needs and don’t always achieve them.
- I have debt that sometimes prohibits me from meeting my basic needs.
- Working through survival credit card debt.
- I have no access to savings.
- I have no or very limited expendable income. I qualify for government assistance, including food stamps and healthcare.
- My family does not have access to assets; I send money to my family when able.
- I rent lower-end properties or have unstable housing.
Price: $0 to $15/hour
- I may stress about meeting my needs sometimes but I regularly achieve them.
- I have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs. May include student loans, and most people in my family have higher education.
- I might have some savings.
- I can take a vacation annually or every few years.
- I have some expendable income; able to have some new items and some thrift.
- My family has some assets, like owning a home. My housing is stable and mid- to higher-end.
Price: $15 to $25/hour
- I am able to meet all of my basic needs.
- I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment.
- I have access to savings and both earned and unearned assets.
- I can afford an annual vacation and/or take time off without financial burden.
- I have expendable income.
- My family has assets like investments and property. Someone else contributes to my rent, mortgage, or down-payment.
- I own my home and/or rent a higher-end property. I have or anticipate inheriting property. I own or lease a car.
Price: $25 to $50/hour
I accept cash, credit card or check. Things like long distance travel, equipment rentals, or buying supplies, groceries, etc… are of course extra. Payment is expected upfront, unless previously agreed upon.