When someone dies at home it may be expected or classed as sudden (unexpected) and home deaths account for 21% of all deaths. Where a death is expected the person who has died and their family / carers more than likely will have had support from Health Services or palliative care organisations. However, depending on where people are in the country this support varies meaning that while some families have lots of support throughout, others may have dealt with things largely on their own. And when a death is sudden so not expected it hurls the family into the most traumatic experience of their lives.
When a death has been expected it is still a traumatic and painful situation and unlike deaths that occur in the Hospital, Hospice or Care Home, it is now the family who need to take the first steps of contacting relevant professionals.
The GP (the persons own GP or an out of hours GP) is contacted who will attend the home and will complete the Medical Certificate with the cause of death. The Medical Certificate is given to the family to enable them to Register the Death.
Once the GP has been if the family is using a Funeral Director – they can’t come to collect the person who has died until the Doctor has been and completed a Medical certificate. It is the family who contacts a funeral director.
A lot of people feel the pressure to act immediately regarding the funeral director coming when someone has died. There is no rush and it is possible to spend more time with the person who has died before calling the funeral director. In these circumstances turn the heating down in the room that the person who has died is in and if the person is in bed with a thick duvet on, just replace that with a lighter blanket.
Once a funeral director has been called then they will arrive at the home and collect the person who has died and transport them to their funeral home. The funeral directors staff will explain what is going to happen and answer any questions from the family, they may make arrangements for you to meet with someone or someone else form the funeral home may contact you separately.
If a death is sudden or unexpected, typically the Ambulance Service has been called and the Paramedics, once pronounced life extinct, will contact the Police. This is standard and normal. procedure. A Police Officer will attend the address and talk to any family present and take first accounts of what has happened. The Police Officer will contact a Funeral Director to come to transport the person who has died to the Hospital Mortuary and the death will be handed over to the Coroner.
Where a death is as a result of a crime the Police will take charge of the case and an investigation will be launched.