Funeral directors: draft code of practice
The draft statutory code of practice for funeral directors (updated January 2023) will be key to underpinning the statutory inspection of funeral directors in Scotland. Funeral directors will be inspected against this code once it comes into force.
Engagement of the funeral director and transfer of the deceased
14. The funeral director must be transparent with the client (the person engaging the services of the funeral director) and with any prospective clients about the goods and services they offer. If the funeral director does not offer the goods or services the client has requested the funeral director must make that clear and must make the client aware that those services can be accessed elsewhere. All written and verbal communication must be clear and in plain language avoiding jargon. The funeral director must act in accordance with the instructions of the client and with this Code.
15. When the funeral director is contacted in relation to the death of a person initial details must be gathered from the client (or other person who makes contact with the funeral director on behalf of the client or while the person who will be the client is not yet determined). The funeral director at first contact must, whenever practicable, obtain and record the following minimum information:
- The full name, address and telephone number of the person making contact with the funeral director.
- The full name and address of the deceased.
- The date of birth and age of the deceased, if known.
- The current location and address of the deceased, if different to the above address.
- Confirmation that the death has been confirmed by a medical professional.
Transfer of the deceased into the funeral director's care
16. In the event that the funeral director has been contacted by someone other than the client, the funeral director must make all reasonable enquiries to establish the identity and contact details of the client at this stage and to establish contact with the client as soon as possible.
17. The funeral director must inform the client that they adhere to the Code and provide the client with a copy or web link if requested.
18. Once the funeral director has been instructed they must take the deceased into their care at the earliest possible opportunity.
19. Before transferring the deceased into their care the funeral director must ensure that:
- The equipment to be used is suitable for the transfer of the deceased; taking into account the deceased's body type - and is clean, in good condition and well-maintained.
- The staff involved in the transfer of the deceased are trained to do so.
- The vehicle used to transfer the deceased must be specifically equipped and used for that purpose; and is clean and well-maintained.
- The deceased are treated with care and dignity.
- Consideration is given to any bereaved persons present.
20. At the location from where the deceased is to be collected, the funeral director must:
- Confirm the identity of the deceased.
- Obtain signed authorisation from the client or the person the client has nominated to represent them for the transfer of the deceased into their care; or, where the client has yet to be identified, signed authorisation from the person requesting the transfer (e.g. hospital or care home staff).
- Advise that person in writing (or by e-mail) of the location where the deceased is being transferred to including an address and contact number for the location.
- At the earliest opportunity inform the client of all locations where the deceased will be cared for (and all addresses of the premises where the deceased will be kept).
- Make or obtain a record of the deceased's personal effects that the funeral director will have in their care and a record of any personal effects which have been returned to the person signing the record at the time of transfer. The funeral director must ensure that this record is checked and signed (on paper or electronically) by the client or the person the client has nominated to represent them, before departing with the deceased. If the client has yet to be identified or is unavailable at the time of the transfer the personal effects record must be counter-signed by another person such as a member of staff of the hospital mortuary or care home before the funeral director departs with the deceased.
- Securely attach to the deceased a completed identity tag (e.g. to the wrist).
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