In Portugal – where palliative care is no priority – a first training course of end-of-life doulas has started last September.
The program covers topics like active listening, symptoms of chronic ailments, nutrition and hydration, post-mortem care and legacy work.

An end-of-life doula is a professional, who guides the dying and opens up the conversation about death and loss. Topics that are often taboo for the dying and their family. Doulas promote family-led, home-based care and their role can supplement and go beyond hospice care. No easy task in a society that tends to react to sadness with a prescription of antidepressants.

The term doula originates from ancient Greece meaning a helping individual; a servant or in extreme cases, a slave. Since the 1960s the term is in use for women who support pregnant mothers during childbirth. Unlike midwives, they do not serve in a medical capacity.

The primary role of the end-of-life doulas is not only to provide emotional, physical and psychological support but also to educate and empower families to exercise their right to care for the dead.
Their work is relatively common in the USA (, Canada and Brazil and although they are not required to have medical training, many come from the healthcare field.

What happens if the family wants to continue curative care but the patient not?
‘It will be up to the doula to act as an intermediary between the needs of each other, to try to harmonize conflicts’, explains nurse Ana Infante, a palliative care nurse and organizer of the course. ‘There are signs and symptoms that are part of the end-of-life process. It is important to know how to recognize them and reassure the family, identifying those that may be causing the dying person discomfort.’

The work of doulas doesn’t replace that of health professionals and has nothing to do with euthanasia. Doulas do not delay or advance the process of dying: they merely accompany people. This work can be done at home or in hospital as long as the surrounding environment is comfortable, safe and peaceful for the patient.

Aproveite o seu dia                                                     Enjoy your day


You can wrap it in plastic, put it in Tupperware or do both, it still smells.

Portugal is the world leader in consuming salt-dried cod and the only country in the EU that consumes more cod than salmon.
One-third of the cod consumption occurs during the festive season. On Christmas Eve five thousand tons of cod – caught by the Norwegians in the arctic Barents sea – are being devoured.

What began in a country with a large following Christianity as an alternative food to the Church’s fasting of meat during Lent, later became associated with Christmas. The traditional meal is called Consoada. It consists of boiled salt-dried codfish – soaked for 2 or 3 days to remove most of the salt –  boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, boiled chickpeas, and boiled cabbage accompanied with a dressing of chopped raw onion, garlic, parsley, and lots of olive oil!

Cod (bacalhau) is the nation’s favourite dish. According to the locals, there are 365 different ways to prepare it. Well-known dishes are bacalhau à lagareiro, à brás, com natas, com broa and bacalhau de cebolada.  Bolinhas de bacalhau are delicious snacks. Lombos (loins) are the juiciest and most expensive parts that can be roasted, baked or grilled. Postas (steaks) are good for frying but also used in soups and stews.

The fish isn’t native to Portuguese waters. The Vikings – who used to take air-dried cod on their sea voyages – probably introduced bacalhau in Portugal. To preserve it longer, the Basques went a step further by salting the fish before drying.

But how did cod become so popular in Portugal? Through Terra Nova (New Land)
In the European Age of Discovery and Exploration, the Portuguese claimed Newfoundland (currently part of Canada) or Terra Nova as their discovery. The island was a fish mine and named Terra dos Bacalhaus (Land of Codfish) on old Portuguese maps. Except that the protein-rich salted cod served to feed sailors on pioneering ships, the fish became an integral part of the national cuisine after the Portuguese commercialized the fisheries in the 16th century.

Traditional fishing far away from home was easier said than done. Each fisherman was assigned a dory – a small flat-bottomed fishing boat – which was lowered from the mothership into the ice-cold waters once they reached the banks of Newfoundland. The fisherman then ventured all alone into the foggy sea and was left to his own till his boat was filled the day’s catch. The documentary The Lonely Dorymen from 1967 clearly shows the harsh conditions the men had to endure

Aproveite o seu dia                  Enjoy your day
            (pic Observador/Público)