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What to do when someone dies at home

When someone dies at home, there are a number of things to consider depending on how they passed and whether the death was expected or unexpected. If they died during the day or at night, there are different steps to take.

If someone dies at home and the death was expected

When the death is expected, the next steps vary slightly depending on the time of day.

During the day

If your loved one died during the day, and the death was anticipated, for example, from a terminal illness, you will need to contact their GP or the NHS helpline (dial 111) as soon as possible.

At night

If your loved one passed away at night, you should still call the NHS helpline (dial 111) and they will advise you on what to do next. You can wait until the morning before contacting their GP.

In both instances, if you are not the next of kin or a close relative, you should ensure they’re notified immediately.

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 medical professional 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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First steps when someone dies

Follow our step-by-step guides to understand the key things you need to do when a loved one passes away

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