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Interfaith logosToolkit includes curriculum and materials to host educational seminars for faith leaders on the end of life

Faith communities are in a key position to engage people of all ages in issues related to advance care planning, serious illness, care at end of life, caregiving and grief.

In 2015 I worked with the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California and a team at Hospice of Santa Cruz County to pilot an education curriculum designed to engage faith leaders through a series of end-of-life care seminars.

This curriculum, now available for download as the Faith Leader Toolkit, contains core teaching modules addressing topics such as advance care planning, supporting patients in identifying their end-of-life care goals, and being present during the final hours of dying.

The Toolkit resources can help you plan your own local seminar and includes tips on involving the expertise of your local end-of-life care experts and engaging your faith leader audience in a rich exploration of what it means to be present to those they minister to at the end of life. The Toolkit’s sample agenda, personal reflections and skills application exercises all provide an ideal starting point for your group’s planning efforts.

As one pastor noted during the training,

“It’s the older generations who populate and sustain church congregations, and these people are living longer. When you live longer you experience more loss, which triggers an increased interest in end-of-life issues and a greater need for support. As faith leaders, we need to know how to respond to these growing needs in our communities.”

The beauty of the Faith Leader Toolkit is that the seminar content is ready to be used as-is, and yet the teaching modules and activities can be customized to meet the particular needs and interests of any local community.

In addition to the core training content, the Toolkit offers helpful strategy support in the form of event planning tools, sample promotional materials, and content for a participant resource binder.

Our event in Santa Cruz County was a great success and led to additional gatherings to continue learning about topics related to the end of life.

While the culture of Santa Cruz may differ greatly from your local community, the passion and love our faith leaders have for their congregations is universal, and I have no doubt your community will respond with similar enthusiasm.

As one faith leader shared at the end of our seminar,

“The support needed at the end of life is so much more than I realized. I now have a much better understanding of how I can help make this period a more rich and meaningful experience for those we serve.”

The Faith Leaders Toolkit was developed with support from the Archstone Foundation.

Julie BoudreauJulie Boudreau is a public health educator and communications specialist with 12 years of experience doing advance care planning education at the community level. She chaired the Santa Cruz County Make Your Wishes Known Initiative, coordinated the Santa Cruz County POLST Coalition, and served as Community Education and Outreach Manager at Hospice of Santa Cruz County. In 2015, she was project manager for the “Being Mortal” community screenings under the California HealthCare Foundation and the Harman Family Foundation. She has extensive training and public speaking experience.

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