What to do when someone dies in a care home

two people holding hands to support each other in grief

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 funeral planning authority 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.

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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