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Coronavirus Pandemic - FAQs

Dignity Funerals is continuously monitoring and responding to this outbreak and advice from the UK Government. This Q&A will be updated as more is known about COVID-19, how it spreads and how it is affecting people.

If local restrictions are in place in your area, check your local guidance.

Key topics

Arranging a funeral

Can I arrange a funeral?

Yes. We’re able to arrange funerals as we normally do, providing high standards of care and service for families and their loved ones. 

We are attempting to provide as many of our services as possible but there are some restrictions in place to meet the government's social distancing guidelines. For example the maximum number of mourners that can safely attend a service. The situation is changing regularly, in the coming weeks there may be more changes to the services we can offer.

If you need to arrange a funeral, give us a call and we will provide you with the most up to date guidance. We’re here to help.

 

How do I arrange a funeral if I am self-isolating?

If you are affected by Coronavirus or you are self-isolating, we have processes in place that will ensure we can still arrange a funeral with you. Please call us first before coming to a branch so that we can give you the correct guidance. 

For example, you can make most arrangements over the phone and we can email or post key documents and forms. 

Will the funeral be delayed?

Right now, funerals are being arranged as usual - but there may be some impact on timings depending on your location and desired service venue.

Please call us if you need to arrange a funeral and we will be able to give you the most up to date guidance.

Can I delay the funeral?

Delays and flexibility on timings are possible but limited, and we will do everything we can to find a date that suits you. However, you need to be aware that delaying may mean that further restrictions are in place in the future based on the Goverment guidance at that time

How many people can attend the funeral I'm organising?

It is advised only a modest number of family and friends of the deceased should travel to and attend the funeral. The number of attendees should be kept as low as possible to ensure social distancing can be maintained. 

The venue will determine the maximum number of attendees that they can safely accommodate whilst also maintaining social distancing. If the venue is a place of worship in England, it is advised that the number of attendees should be restricted to 30 people for public health reasons. In Scotland, a maximum of 20 people are able to attend a funeral.

We will be able to provide you with the most up to date guidance on your preferred service location during any arrangements.

Will burials still be allowed, or will cremations become mandatory?

Right now, we can arrange both burials and cremations. 

But the situation is changing regularly. This may mean in the coming weeks there may be limitations to the services we can offer and arrangements already underway may have to change.  We will follow government guidance as it is updated. 

What happens if a funeral director branch (or multiple) have to close?

As a nationwide network of funeral directors and crematoria, we can work with colleagues and facilities in other branches nearby should we require additional support.   

This means clients will receive the same high standards of care and service even if one of our funeral directors must close as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Can I still collect donations at the funeral?

If you would like to collect charitable donations on behalf of your loved one, the safest way to do this is online via a Dignity Funeral Notice, which will also enable people to leave messages of condolence for you to read. Our Funeral Notice service is provided free of charge and your Funeral Director will be able to guide you through how to do this.

If a congregational collection is an absolute necessity, we will supply a Dignity disposable donation box available on exit at venue and hand to you unopened immediately at the end of the service. We are not able to bring donated monies back to our premises.

Who can attend a funeral?

It is advised only a modest number of family and friends of the deceased should travel to and attend the funeral.

You may be asked to make a record of the attendees of the funeral which will be provided (upon request) to a Test & Trace officer.

In Scotland, if the funeral service is held on our premises, we will need to collate a list of the attendees and hold the data for 21 days.

Can I still book a Limousine(s) to transport my family on the day of the funeral?

We are now able to offer a limited limousine service*. For your safety, we are fitting our limousines with a partition screen to protect you and your family. We will carry out a thorough deep clean ahead of your journey, as well as ensuring the vehicle is of the high standard you’d expect to attend the funeral of your loved one. Your Funeral Director will advise if this service is available to you.

*Excluding Northern Ireland.

Can I visit the deceased in the chapel of rest?

Spending time with your loved one in a chapel of rest is still possible, but there are several changes and restrictions in place. We are doing all we can to support our clients and families with these services and it is always best to ask your funeral director what is available to you at the time.

Can I include a church service within the funeral I arrange?

Churches are now permitted to re-open and funerals may be carried out. The size and circumstance of the church will determine the maximum number that can be accommodated whilst also facilitating social distancing, but numbers should be minimised as much as possible. Please check with your local minister, church or funeral director who will be able to advise.

Activities such as singing, chanting, requiring raised voices or playing of instruments that are blown into should be specifically avoided.

Can the funeral go ahead as planned and the wake/reception organised at a later date?

We will do our very best to conduct funerals in line with government guidance, however limitations may be implemented. We can assist in arranging memorials at a later date.

Do I need to attend the register office in person to register the death?

You will need to register the death of your loved one within five days from the date of death in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and eight days in Scotland. You can find contact details for your local register office on the GOV.UK website in England and Wales, the Directory of Registrars in Scotland or the General Register Office for Northern Ireland.

In light of current restrictions, your register office will arrange for the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (MCCD) to be sent to you without you needing to attend their premises in person. The process may vary depending on where you live, but the register office will guide you through what you need to do.

This paperwork will need to be shared with your Funeral Director as part of the arrangement process. They will guide you through when and how you need to share it with them.

Can I arrange an appointment at your premises to start making funeral arrangements?

We are still able to offer face-to-face appointments in our funeral homes. We can accommodate a maximum of two people at a time and we will ensure that social distancing guidelines are met. We ask that all visitors to our funeral homes wear a face covering.

Funerals can be arranged over the telephone and information can be sent to you via email.

To ensure the safety of everyone, we will offer telephone appointments to anyone who is self-isolating or has symptoms of Coronavirus. We are unable to attend a private residence to make funeral arrangements at this time.

My loved one has passed away as a result of Coronavirus. Can you help?

Yes, we are able to arrange a funeral for your loved one. Please just make us aware of the situation when you call us and we'll take care of everything.

Who can travel in the Limousine?

Only members of the same household or support bubble who are not currently self-isolating or displaying symptoms of Coronavirus may travel within the limousine. There is a maximum of up to 6 people permitted in the vehicle at any time. All passengers must wear face coverings unless they're exempt.

Attending a funeral

Can I attend a funeral?

Yes - if you have been invited and are either a member of the person's household, close family or a close friend. 

Adherence to government guidelines on social distancing is required at all times.

Anyone suffering from Coronavirus symptoms should not attend a funeral service under any circumstances.

If you are self-isolating due to another member of the household being unwell with symptoms of Coronavirus but you aren't displaying symptoms yourself, you can still attend a funeral*. You should:

- Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from others

- Advise the other mourners that you are self-isolating at home, and ensure that you do not attend at the same time as another mourner who may be extremely clinically vulnerable

- Travel to and from the funeral in your own transport (if possible). You should take face covering methods, if you have to share transport with someone who doesn’t live in your household

If you are in an extremely clinically vulnerable group, you can still attend a funeral if you wish to do so. However, you are not advised to attend if there are others attending who are self-isolating due to another member of the household being unwell with symptoms of Coronavirus*. You should:

- Follow the general social distancing advice for the clinically vulnerable mourners and should maintain a distance of 2 metres away from others as a minimum

- Advise other attendees that you are an extremely clinically vulnerable person

- Travel to the venue via the safest route possible, preferably in a car alone or with someone from your household

- Adhere to rigorous hand and respiratory hygiene whilst you are out of your home environment.

*Taken from GOV.UK on the 21/05/2020

I have symptoms of Coronavirus / can’t attend the funeral in person, how else can I view the service?

If anyone is suffering from symptoms of Coronavirus they should not attend a funeral service at all.

A large number of crematoriums are able to provide webcasting, which will enable those who can't attend to still be able to view the funeral service online rather than attending the crematorium. 

Individuals attending with the necessary device and airtime plan could video call someone who can't attend as an alternative solution as well.

How can I ensure I stay as safe as possible whilst attending a funeral?

Mourners who are not part of the same household or support bubble are advised to stay the recommended 2 metres apart from each other and avoid shaking hands or other physical contact. It is also advised that you do not share stationery items (orders of service, condolence cards) or pens amongst mourners who are not part of the same household or support bubble.

You should also follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral. If you are using shared transport with others that you do not normally meet and where social distancing is not possible, you should consider wearing a face covering.

Who makes the final decision on number of attendees?

The decision is down to the venue. If a venue has decided to restrict the maximum number of mourners they are allowing, we are not able to over rule their decision.

Can I bear the coffin?

Reluctantly, we are not able to permit pallbearers to shoulder your loved one’s coffin or casket. Instead, one of our professional and experienced funeral directors will deliver the coffin into the service on a wheeled bier (a small trolley).

Do I need to wear a face covering?

Face coverings must be worn by law* in indoor places of worship, crematoria and burial ground chapels unless you are exempt for health, disability or other reasons.

*Law applies in England and Scotland.

Viewing and caring of the deceased

What hygiene measures are you putting in place?

We already operate with the highest levels of hygiene and safety standards across all of our locations. However, we have implemented additional cleaning routines and procedures in line with guidance from Public Health England to ensure the safety of our staff and all visitors.  

Will you still allow viewing?

We will do all we can to provide this service if it is what you want.   

We are taking daily guidance from Public Health England and there may be restrictions put in place on viewing those who have died as a result of COVID-19. 

Please speak to us and we will be able to provide full guidance on your individual circumstances 

Can I follow religious customs?

We are regrettably, and without exception, unable to facilitate any form of ritual washing or faith based preparation of the deceased in our care, within our premises or at a private residence.

If we are requested to transfer any deceased for reasons of religion to any alternative location, it will be on an exceptional basis and subject to respecting the government guidelines on gatherings and social distancing.

Payments

Are you charging families that need to keep their loved one in your care for longer than usual?

No – there are no additional costs if we have to care for your loved one for a longer period of time.

If I have to cancel the funeral, do I get a refund?

Yes – we will only charge for services we have carried out on your behalf.

I can’t afford to pay for the funeral, what can you do to help?

We recognise this is a difficult time for everyone, with many people in unexpected financial circumstances. We have a range of different services to suit most budgets and we also have arrangements with FuneralSafe who may be able to offer financial assistance.  Additionally we can provide guidance and advice if you are eligible for financial support from the government. 

Can I pay my invoice online?

Yes, you can still pay your invoice online, by using our portal. Please make sure you have your invoice at hand, as you will be asked for the invoice reference number.

Funeral Plans

Can I still buy a Funeral Plan?

Yes, you can still purchase a Funeral Plan. If you aren’t able to visit one of our branches or partners, you can find out about the services we offer on our website or calling us on 0800 587 2541.

Have you changed the price of a Funeral Plan due to Coronavirus?

No – all our prices remain as normal 

What should I do if I am having difficulty paying my instalments?

If you are having difficulty paying for your plan or you would like to discuss any concerns you may have, please call us on 0800 587 2541. 

I suspect I may have Coronavirus, does this affect my funeral plan?

No, having Coronavirus does not affect your funeral plan, and does not stop you taking out a new funeral plan.

Is the Dignity Promise affected by Coronavirus?

The Dignity Promise is unaffected by coronavirus.  Any customer who has purchased a plan with promise who has paid premiums for at least 12 months will be protected (subject to the terms and conditions). 

Does the recent fall in the stock market affect the ability of the Trust to pay for my funeral?

No. Dignity provides a guarantee to provide your selected funeral irrespective of any impact a fall in the value of the Trust.

What if certain items within my funeral plan are not available due to coronavirus?

We are able to offer most of the services included within our Funeral Plans. Where there are any limitations as a result of coronavirus, we will discuss these with you at the time.

We will do our best to meet the needs of our clients, while staying aligned to Government advice.

What happens if my selected Funeral Director is closed due to coronavirus?

Dignity has a nationwide network of funeral directors, as well as a number of independent Funeral Directors who are able to carry out the services provided by a Dignity Funeral Plan.  

In the event of the Nominated Funeral Director being required to closewe will appoint an alternative locally and arranges will be made with you to minimise the inconvenience caused. 

This means clients will receive the same high standards of care and service even if one of our crematorium has to close or is affected by COVID-19. 

Crematoria

What happens if a crematorium has to close?

If a service location is forced to close we will work with you to find an alternative that is local and suitable for your requirements 

Can I collect my loved one's ashes from the Crematorium?

Right now, we continue to manage the return of ashes as normal. This may be either us returning them to you or arranging for you to collect from the crematorium.

If collecting from the crematorium, this may be arranged to a suitable date after mobility restrictions are lifted across the UK

Will the return of ashes be affected?

Right now, we continue to manage the return of ashes as normal. This may be either us returning them to you or arranging for you to collect from the crematorium.

If collecting from the crematorium, this may be arranged to a suitable date after mobility restrictions are lifted across the UK. If we are delivering the ashes to you, our staff will practise social distancing when the delivery takes place.

Can I visit the Crematorium, Cemetery, or memorial site?

Effective April 21st 2020, Crematoria and Cemetery grounds will be open for visiting graves and remembrance gardens. Please ensure that any visits continue to respect social distancing guidelines at all times.

There are restrictions on the number of people who can attend a funeral service, based on the venue.

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