Having a certified doula will enhance the quality of end-of-life/palliative care at Country Haven, says manager

RPN Rachel Gukert, who has a ‘passion’ for helping residents receiving palliative care and their families, recently completed her end-of-life doula training

Almonte Country Haven registered practical nurse (RPN) Rachel Gukert recently became a certified end-of-life doula, and her training and expertise counselling residents at the end-of-life stage and their families will help enhance the quality of care at the Lanark County long-term care home, says one of Rachel’s colleagues.

Ruzica Subotic-Howell, the director of infection, prevention and control at Garden Terrace, worked with Rachel at Almonte Country Haven when Ruzica was Country Haven’s director of care. She says Rachel has a “passion” for helping residents receiving palliative care supports and their families, and the knowledge she has gleaned through her end-of-life doula certification will enhance the already-strong palliative care team at the home, Ruzica adds.

“Doula” is a Greek word that translates to “servant” or “helper”. The goal of an end-of-life doula is to empower and counsel people who are at the end-of-life stage and their families on decision making when it comes to their wishes and needs.

While staff members working on palliative care teams already consult with residents receiving end-of-life care and their families about their wishes and needs, a doula specializes in the approach, Ruzica says.

“What (having an end-of-life doula) will mean for residents receiving end-of-life care is that they will have a specialized person who will be able to look at the domains of their care as they move to end-of-life/palliative care,” Ruzica tells The OMNIway.

“This is definitely related to the quality of resident care because Rachel is now a leader in that, and she’s a wonderful teacher and a team player who shares her knowledge with others, so it will be a tremendous benefit for the home.”

Ruzica says there are not many doulas working in Ontario long-term care homes, so being certified as an end-of-life doula is a “massive achievement” for Rachel that will benefit Almonte Country Haven residents and their loved ones.

“Rachel has been such a keen person, (and) she has taken on the initiative to (build upon) her palliative care knowledge, so this brings (her expertise) up quite a notch,” Ruzica says.

“She wants to work with residents at Almonte and really solidify the knowledge she has to help them.”

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