'Midwives' of mercy: The new breed of inspirational carers helping to ensure people's dying days are spent in the comfort of their own homes has sprung up in the U.K
Soul midwifery is a unique approach to end-of-life care. In the words of Felicity Warner, the woman who founded it, 'just as a birth midwife ensures a safe delivery into this world, the soul midwife's role is to do the same for the dying, to make a good death possible, a dignified, peaceful and even enriching experience'.
The work of soul midwives was recognized when Felicity Warner was named 2017 End of Life Care Champion by the National Council for Palliative Care and the Royal College of Nursing. The seed for soul midwifery was planted more than 20 years ago when Felicity, now 58, was working as a journalist and interviewed several women dying of breast cancer. The women told 'how lonely it felt to be dying despite their medical care and their families around them'.Posted by Jill Fallon at March 18, 2017 6:05 PM | Permalink
Not only were their doctors and nurses too busy to talk about death and dying but, surprisingly, Felicity found the women were becoming increasingly distant from friends and family who couldn't cope with the reality and masked it with platitudes such as: 'You'll be feeling better soon.' Researching how people died before the rise of modern 'curative' Western medicine, Felicity found a range of practices 'that had in common the fact that they respected the act of dying as a sacred time'.
She established soul midwifery in 2004, and has since trained 600 soul midwives — many already have a health practitioner qualification — with an initial three-day course, followed by an apprenticeship lasting around a year.
Qualified soul midwives' costs are in line with local rates for services such as counselling, though many also work as volunteers at hospices or use the qualification to help care for a terminally ill relative.