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What to do when someone dies in a care home

If your loved one passes away while being cared for in care home, the staff will know what to do and the processes that must be followed. They are there to help and will be able to advise you on next steps. 

What happens immediately after their death? 

If you are not present when your loved one passes away, care home staff will notify you as soon as possible after their death. You can request to see your loved one if you wish to.

If the death was expected

The death will need to be verified by a medical practitioner and the GP notified so that they can certify the death. Care home staff will usually do this on your behalf. If the death has been expected or the GP has seen your loved one in the last 14 days, the doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, allowing you to register the death.

If the death is unexpected

If the death is sudden or of unknown or suspicious causes, the doctor or care home staff 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.

Care home staff will often help you to notify your local funeral director and liaise with them on your behalf. The funeral director will collect your loved one and transfer them safely to the funeral director’s own chapel of rest facilities, keeping you fully informed each step of the way.

What happens to my loved one’s body if they die in a care home?

Care home staff are trained to ensure that your loved one is properly looked after. They will usually be moved to their room, or another private space, where they can lie in peace until the family have been notified, the medical certificate of the cause of death provided and the funeral director is able to collect the body.

Customs and religious rituals

Care home staff will usually be happy for you to spend time with your loved one after their death. For some, this can be a time to sit peacefully, say goodbye or share memories. For others, there may be important cultural or religious customs that should take place. Please notify staff as soon as possible if you wish to spend time with your loved-one, so that they can plan appropriately.

What will happen to my loved one’s possessions if they die in a care home?

The care home will usually contact you (or the next of kin) to arrange a convenient time for you to collect your loved one’s belongings. Most care homes will request that you sign paperwork to acknowledge receipt of these items.

My loved one has died in a care home and was an organ donor

If you’re unsure whether or not your loved one was registered as an organ donor, the hospital should be able to verify this for you. The organ donation process begins by verifying that the person has passed away and then getting consent for the donation of any usable organs.

What happens next?

Our friendly and knowledgeable funeral directors will be able to help you through the process of planning a funeral. We also have a timeline of what to do when someone dies, which will help you with everything from registering the death to how to deal with the affairs of your loved one.

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Has a loved one passed away?

If someone has passed, please call us immediately. We are available 24/7, to help and guide you at every step

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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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