Through six weekend modules scheduled over a six month period, students will learn with leading clinicians & pioneers in the growing field of end-of-life care. The training uses an inter-professional model which includes a variety of instructional methods including: experiential, theoretical, group work and case study review. Students will be introduced to a multiplicity of tools and practices, which will allow them to serve the dying with sensitivity and skill, while cultivating their capacity for presence, wisdom and compassion. The required core competencies include the introduction and use of mindfulness techniques, and simple, yet profound rituals for the dying. Each module will include exercises, practices and processes that can be integrated into a variety of environments. The focus of the program is client and relationship-centered, emphasizing practical and experiential learning.
This contemplative approach enhances a student’s capacity to create environments wherein profound transformation can occur, and provides the practical knowledge and professional competencies to facilitate these supportive networks. Students will be introduced to relevant legal and medical terms, concepts, resources and procedures so they are prepared to assist clients with end-of-life and healthcare decisions. They will learn to create meaningful care plans for the dying and their communities, advocate for client’s well-being and offer a quality of presence and engagement that can transform the experience of dying to one filled with meaning and grace. The training aims to develop the individual practitioner’s capacity for compassionate service as educators, thanadoulas, and end of life care facilitators.
MODULE I: Contemplative Approaches to End-of-Life Care
Introduction: This module will provide an overview of key concepts, principals and practices, which will guide the entire training. It will provide a historical & philosophical context, current insights and research into end of life care, as well as examine the evolving role of the end of life care provider. Psycho-social-spiritual theories of hospice & palliative care will be introduced. We will explore Mindfulness Meditation & Presence as an intervention at the end-of-life. The spiritual foundations of end-of-life care, dying and death will be introduced as meaningful and transformative processes for individual dying and for their community. Students will receive full training in Vigiling.
MODULE II: Sacred Art of Dying
We will explore the outer and inner transitions and signs of the dying process and appropriate practices and the role of rituals at the end of life. The Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tradition offers insights into the dying and death process that can serve as a useful model and map for end of life care practitioners. In this extant tradition, death is perceived as an opportunity to experience profound insight in the nature of life and being. Because the death experience is valued in the aforementioned context, there is need to assist others as a guide. We will practice techniques that have been designed to create a supportive transition for the dying and explore the spiritual preparations for death, end-of- life care interventions, rituals & healing practices.
MODULE III: Therapeutic Relationships
Central to the role and responsibilities of the end of life care practitioner is relationship; with self, with the dying, with the families with whom you will work, medical staff and others. You will be called on to perform many roles; as a guiding presence, a resource person, and a mediator in times of conflict and tension. The skills learned in this session are essential for an end of life care facilitator: mindful listening & presence, heart-centeredness, discernment and the ability to clearly communicate. These roles will be explored extensively. The above competencies will be honed in practice sessions with experienced facilitators. The emphasis of this module is on building personal resources and awareness which are necessary to work with the dying and their communities. Students will also explore ethical considerations at the end of life.
MODULE IV: Death—A Community Endeavour
This session requires students to weave together previous learning in order to create care plans for the end-of-life. These tools will allow you to share your skills in a variety of situations – homes, hospices, hospitals, and to create plans for the present, and the anticipated need for advanced health care directives and post- mortem considerations. Central to these preparations is the process of community building, with the dying situated at the centre of considerations. The role of the Contemplative End-of- Life Care provider is based on practices which invite the best from all participants – family, friends, colleagues and medical staff. This module provides students with the tools to identify and utilize immediate resources in order to best serve the dying and their communities. As an end of life care provider, you will soon become familiar with the myriad of pain relief and management options both from medical and interdisciplinary interventions. This weekend will also address care for the body in home and palliative environments. The session will introduce practical techniques infused with mindful presence. Students will also explore the various legal and medical issues surrounding care of the dying, community resources & services available to the dying. We will be introduced to Canadian legal considerations around end of life care; wills. Students will be introduced to the various organizations, facilities, including funeral homes, professionals and services available in end of life care and will learn tools for accessing these organizations and services.
MODULE V: Mindful Grieving and Bereavement
This module will focus on the origins of grief, grief as a healing process and examine the latest research into grief and bereavement. We will consider different models of grief and how interventions impact the process. We will explore the process of ‘Grieving Mindfully’, the landscapes of grief, loss and change, integrative and comprehensive grief therapy, dying, death, and loss across cultures and time, types of grief, facilitating resilience, and care-giver fatigue. We will also explore death-like experiences and losses (Alzheimer's) and address the nature of suffering (psycho-social-physical-spiritual suffering).
MODULE VI: Clinical Impact of Rituals
In this module, students will explore the power of ritual, how to address end-of-life care wishes, the spiritual, religious and multi-cultural perspectives at the end of life. This module will also offer practical training designed to guide students in the process of facilitating alternative home funerals, ceremonies and rituals. Students will explore death as a sacred time and natural cycle of life, as well as the social, economic, ecological and spiritual benefits of caring for those who are dying within our own communities. Theoretical, as well as hands-on techniques of caring and honouring of the body through the death process will also be covered. Students will learn how to prepare a personal funeral kit, and interviewing techniques to work with families. This module will also provide tools so that one is able to act as a resource and direct individuals to existing end of life care options, including standard funeral practices, home funerals in Canada, and burial options.