Meet the spirit midwives and doulas to make sure everyone’s last days before death are positive


Felicity Warner, the award’s founder, said, just as midwives and doulas help bring life into the world, it’s perfect to have people to help and support us. Midwife of the soula movement to make death a better experience.

A recent report commissioned by Co-op Fu Tangcare highlighted how opening up conversations about death is an opportunity to reduce emotional burdens, social isolation, and unspeakable fear. of those who have died or are facing death.

Since Felicity started volunteering at a hospice, 25 years ago, she made it her goal to support those who are facing death. “I spent many hours sitting with people who were dying — especially those who didn’t have family or friends to visit them,” she said.

“I recognize many people facing death feeling scared and isolated. While clinical care can take a lot of care, tenderness and human touch are often lacking.”

Felicity’s foundation is in complementary medicine, and she finds that massage, essential oils, music and creative imagery help soothe and reassure patients.

Caroline Roberts and her mother Diane

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The Hospice staff also noticed the difference, so Felicity began training them informally before officially starting Soul Midwives.

“The work is not aligned with any particular creed or religion,” says Felicity.

“Patients are called friends from the moment they are diagnosed. We advise them on their options and help with end-of-life planning. This often helps people really enjoy life until their health declines. “

At this point, Felicity and her team provide comprehensive support and soothing therapies to complement clinical care. At the end of their lives, they offered to sit at the bedside.

“We dim the lights, play soft music, and hold their hands — there until the end,” Felicity says.

“Everyone I work with is treated with the same level of love that I would have for a dying member of my family.”

Caroline Roberts, 55, from Surrey, knows this from personal experience.

“I heard about Soul Midwifery in 2017 and it changed my life,” she said.

“My mother, Diane, was diagnosed with a complex form of Parkinson’s disease (Progressive Paralysis) last year and subsequently suffered a major stroke. It seemed like divine intervention when I discovered Krista Hughes, course moderator (, says Caroline.

Spirit Midwife Felicity Warner


Alex Freeman Photography (Alex Freeman Photography) – [None])

Felicity made it her goal to assist people in their death

Krista began visiting Diane every week, building a relationship and discussing her end-of-life wishes.

Diane wanted to stay home until she died so that the palliative care team, community nurses, and healthcare assistants would take care of her physical needs, while Krista cared for her mentally and emotionally.

Diane, 76, passed out in June 2019 and because Krista was on vacation she arranged for her colleague Yvonne to come in.

Caroline said: “Thanks to them I knew exactly what was going to happen.

“A week after my mother took her last breath, my father, Alan, and I were at her bedside, holding her hand. It is very calm and peaceful.”

Yvonne then helped Caroline wash and dress Diane, getting ready for her handler.

End of life maps work in a similar way to spirit midwives. But the training is completely different, says Emma Clare, 31, who holds a degree in psychology and worked as a caregiver before becoming a doula four years ago after training with Living Well, Dying Well (lwdwtraining. uk).

As well as assisting people with a terminal diagnosis, doulas work for the elderly and those with dementia.

Emma said: “We are there at any stage – from the beginning when a person is told they have a terminal illness to the final months and weeks, and beyond to funeral planning. ,” said Emma.

The arrival of Covid means unwelcome changes to both services as they are not recognized as key employees.

“We had to think hard and embrace Zoom, Skype and FaceTime so we could continue to be an ear that listens and comforts loved ones,” Felicity said.

Doulas End of Life continued to provide in-person support whenever possible but also switched to remote support and set up a 24-hour helpline (

Referrals increased by a whopping 53%.

“Before the pandemic, we used to get a referral at diagnosis, so we had months to learn about the person and their loved ones,” Emma said.

“But because the care and medical services are so stressful, we get calls at the end of life, asking for help.”

Both doulas and midwives educate people about the dying process and what to expect. Ms. Emma explains that midwives tend to have more of a therapeutic and emotional role while doulas fill in the gaps and offer specific support depending on the situation.

Support can be anything from making beds and walking the dog to helping navigate the maze of government, health and social services, and funeral arrangements.

Excessive expansion NHS services are much more open to working collaboratively and now doulas have received funding to officially operate alongside NHS trusts.

As part of the pilot scheme, each NHS community hospital in Dorset is now offering end-of-life support.

Felicity said: “Ensuring everyone feels special and loved until their last breath is what we hope to achieve.

“If we can help one person experience death better, it’s all worth it.”

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