If the death occurs in hospital
If someone dies in hospital, then the nursing staff will ensure that you or the next of kin are informed as soon as possible. Being in hospital does mean that the staff can help with the immediate practicalities. They will arrange for a doctor to certify the time, date and cause of death, enabling them to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Once you are in receipt of the Medical Certificate you will be required to register the death at your local Registrar’s Office.
The person who has died will be taken to the hospital mortuary and the hospital staff should ensure the safe return of any of their personal belongings. You will then need to decide which Funeral Director you wish to undertake the funeral, and once all the necessary paperwork is complete they will arrange to take the person who has died into their care, whilst you make the necessary funeral arrangements. Your chosen funeral director can make this appointment for you.
If the death occurs in a residential or nursing home
A very similar procedure will be followed; however it may be prudent to inform the nursing home of your wishes regarding a Funeral Director so that the care of your loved one will be immediate and arrangements will be made for the person who has died to be conveyed to the Chapel of Rest at the earliest opportunity. Always ask if you are unsure as to what the homes’ local practices or arrangements are.
If the death occurs at home then the procedures are usually relatively straightforward. Death can be very quiet and peaceful, so if you suspect that someone has died, you should contact your local doctor. If this is out of ‘normal’ hours, it is up to you whether you want to call an emergency number immediately or just take some time to sit for a while in the peace and tranquillity of home. However, you must contact a doctor as soon as is practical. If the doctor is satisfied that the death resulted from natural causes, they will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, this will not be issued immediately, you will need to check with the surgery when this is ready to collect.
Once the doctor has confirmed the death you can then contact a local Funeral Director to come and take the person who has died into their care, ahead of making the funeral arrangements.
In cases of sudden or unexpected death, you should call the ambulance service and police. The paramedics will confirm the death and the police will arrange for the person who has died to be taken to the local coroner’s mortuary by a nominated funeral director, acting on behalf of the coroner. The coroner will usually order a post mortem to be undertaken to discover the cause of death, the consent of the next of kin is not required for this. It is the coroner, rather than the doctor, who issues the required documents, which enable you to proceed with registering the death.