If someone dies in a care home the staff will follow a procedure to make sure that the person who died is taken care of properly. They’ll also help you and other family members figure out what to do next.
We’ve provided practical steps you can take leading up to funeral arrangements. We hope it makes things a little easier for you.
What to do when someone dies in a care home: step by step
1. The care home staff will look after them.
They’re trained to make sure that the person who’s died is looked after properly. They’ll make sure the person is moved into their room or to a private space until family members can get to the care home to say goodbye.
2. The care home staff will call and let you know what’s happened.
They’ll notify the person’s next of kin as soon as possible. The family member who is noted down as their main contact may be called first. If that’s you then you might want to call other family members to let them know what’s happened. That way, you and your close family members can ask to see the person who’s passed away if that’s what you’d like.
3. A doctor will confirm the cause of death and issue a medical certificate.
When someone dies in a care home the cause of death must be confirmed by a medical professional. If the death of the person was expected the care home staff may deal with this before you arrive. But you’ll still have to contact the person’s GP so that they can issue a medical certificate. You’ll need this to register the person’s death.
4. If the person’s death was unexpected and the cause of death is unclear:
If there’s an unexpected death in a care home a coroner may need to be involved. The care home staff may be able to contact the coroner for you. Then the coroner will carry out a post-mortem to figure out the cause of death so that you can get a medical certificate to register the death. But this will take longer. And you can’t go ahead with the funeral until you register the death. Instead you could take this time to talk with other family members about funeral arrangements or just get the help you need to cope.
5. Arrange for the person who died to be collected.
You’ll need to arrange for the person to be collected and cared for before the funeral takes place. You could contact a funeral director to collect the person who’s died from the care home. They’ll take care of them and prepare them for the funeral service if that’s what you’d like.
But you don’t have to use a funeral director. It’s possible to collect the person and look after them yourself at home as long as you have the right transport. Learn more about arranging a funeral without a funeral director to see if it’s right for you.
If the person who died organised a pre-paid funeral plan you’ll need to contact the funeral director they instructed to come and collect them. Not sure how to find the details? Use the My Funeral Matters tracing system to find the funeral plan they organised. This will help you track down the right funeral director so you can contact them.
6. Register the death.
You’ll need to do this within 5 days of the death (unless a coroner gets involved). Find your local Registry Office and book an appointment with them. When you contact the Registry Office they’ll tell you what you’ll need to bring and what you can expect at the appointment. Read our guide on how to register a death for more info.
7. Collect their personal belongings.
Organise a time to collect the person’s belongings from the care home. Each care home may have a different policy on how to store the person’s belongings and keep them safe. So remember to check this as soon as you can. Some care homes will help you empty the room and store the belongings until you’re ready to collect them. But other care homes may continue to charge fees until you empty the person’s room.
8. Arrange the funeral.
You may have already spoken to a funeral director to help with collecting and taking care of the person who died. But keep in mind that you don’t have to use the first funeral director you talk to. You can always get a feel for different options and prices before you choose a funeral director. And you could also take on some of the funeral arrangements yourself like flower arrangements or the order of service while the funeral director takes care of the essentials.
There’s a lot to think about when organising a funeral. Use our guide on how to arrange a funeral to help make things easier.
And if you’re still struggling to choose a funeral director our funeral director finder may help.