Bringing someone into our care
When a loved one dies, it is important that families and friends have absolute reassurance that they will be looked after in the best possible way. Emma Sparre-Slater, training manager and experienced funeral director, talks us through the process.
If someone dies in hospital, there is usually no immediate need to move them - most hospitals will have the facilities to be able to keep your loved one there until arrangements can be made to transfer them into our care.
However, if your loved one dies either in a nursing home or in their own home, you will need to contact their GP to arrange for them to confirm the death. If the death is unexpected, you may need to call the police, who will notify the coroner’s office. Once the death has been confirmed, you’ll need to contact a funeral director who can arrange to come and take your loved one into their care.
Respect is absolutely key
Emma explains, “Respect is absolutely key to the process of bringing someone into our care. Respect for the person who has died and respect for their families. When we arrive at someone’s house, we are acutely aware of their frame of mind and of the need to be thorough and professional while showing the utmost care, compassion and respect.”
“Everyone who works in this business is told to treat the person with the same care and attention that they would if they were still alive and to act as though their families are still in the room watching.”
Transfer from home
The funeral director and funeral service operatives will arrive at your home in a private ambulance. They will introduce themselves, explain what will happen next and ask to see your loved one. At this point, we will record the details of the deceased, including name and personal effects, the current location and the location that they are to be transferred to. This record keeping is vital to ensuring the best standard of care and ongoing identification of the individual we are taking into our care.
Once we have assessed the situation and met the family, the physical transfer is the next step. The person will be placed onto a clean sheet and then moved onto a stretcher. A pillow will be placed under their head and a sheet over the top of them. In many cases, a flower will be placed on top of the sheet.
“Our role is to minimise the trauma of the whole experience as much as we can” Emma reiterates. “We are there to support the family as well as arrange the transfer of their loved one. If they want to have more time with them, then we respect their wishes and offer advice to help make it a comfortable experience. If someone has died at home in bed, we’ll also strip the bed off, replace the sheets and tidy the room - anything to try to ease the burden on the loved ones.”
In our care: before the funeral
Once in our care, your loved one is treated with the same ongoing care and respect. Our mortuaries are equipped and maintained to a very high standard, offering a hygienic and respectful place for your loved one to rest before the funeral. Between arriving in our care and the funeral taking place, your loved one will be washed and put into a clean gown before being dressed and prepared according to your instructions.
“Some people like to really understand what happens when we prepare their loved one, others prefer to simply trust that we’ll do what is necessary to get them ready them for the funeral,” explains Mark Simpson, a funeral director who has been in the business for 35 years.
“For those who wanted to understand what embalming is all about, we’re happy to explain. The easy answer is that is a hygienic process which gives the deceased a more restful appearance and delays some of the natural effects of death. In many cases, the process means that a family can view their relative for a longer period of time without natural changes taking place. Of course, many people want more information. For those who do, we can arrange a chat with one of our embalmers, who will be more than happy to answer any specific questions they may have. We’re also happy to show the families the back-of-house facilities if they want to see. We are very proud of the standards we offer and have nothing to hide.”
The Chapel of Rest
Many people like to visit their loved ones while they are in our care. All of our funeral homes have a Chapel of Rest, a peaceful and private room where families can choose to visit their loved ones to say goodbye.
Helen Griffiths, area manager based at Hazel and Sons Funeral Directors, explains, “We often get asked whether people should visit the Chapel of Rest. There’s no right or wrong answer - we can’t advise someone one way or another. If they want to, then we are there to make the experience as comfortable as possible and also offer to accompany people if they don’t want to be alone. Sometimes people like to come more than once. All we ask it that they let us know when they want to pop in so that we can make sure that they have the space and privacy they need.”