What to do when someone dies at home
If a loved one has unfortunately passed away at home, there are a number of things you will need to do depending on whether the death was expected or unexpected, and whether it occurred in the day or at night.
If someone dies at home and the death was expected
If the death was expected, for example if your loved one had a terminal illness, you will need to call their GP or the NHS helpline (dial 111) as soon as possible. If you are not the deceased’s next of kin or closest relative, you should also notify them immediately too. If it happened at night, you do not need to contact the doctor until the following morning, unless you want to.
If the cause of death is known, the doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, allowing you to register the death. You should also contact a funeral director immediately to arrange for them to bring your loved one into their care.
If someone dies at home and the death was unexpected
If the death was unexpected, you must call the Police and Ambulance services immediately by dialling 999. The operator will provide instructions on what you need to do including establishing whether you can try to resuscitate the person. The paramedics, upon arrival, will either attempt resuscitation, or confirm the death.
If the cause of death is unknown, it is important you leave the area untouched (apart from any attempt at resuscitation). The Police will arrange for a funeral director to collect the deceased and take the body into their care, acting on behalf of the Coroner if the death is unexpected.
If the doctor is unsure about the actual cause of death, even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly or unnaturally, they will contact the coroner (or procurator fiscal in Scotland). The coroner or procurator fiscal may order a post mortem examination or inquest to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the death to be registered.
It is important to note that a funeral cannot be conducted until the Coroner’s inquest has been completed and cause of death established.
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