Publication - Consultation paper

Funeral directors: draft code of practice

Published: 21 Jun 2019
Directorate:
Population Health Directorate
Part of:
Health and social care
ISBN:
9781787819542

Draft statutory code of practice for funeral directors. Funeral directors will be inspected against this code once it comes into force.

Funeral directors: draft code of practice
2. Care of the deceased and the premises used by the funeral director

2. Care of the deceased and the premises used by the funeral director

7. The funeral director should familiarise themselves with the Health and Safety Executive's guidance on managing infection risks when handling the deceased. It covers the safe handling, storage and examination of bodies and pathological specimens in hospitals, mortuaries and post-mortem rooms. It also provides guidance for those involved in funeral services (including embalmers).

8. The funeral director must clearly and sensitively describe their services for care of the deceased to the client.

9. The client should not be pressured or exploited, and advice should be given to them by experienced and/or trained staff in a clear manner using plain language. The funeral director must be mindful of the difficult circumstances the client is likely to be experiencing.

10. The client must be told the location(s) at which the deceased will be cared for/kept.

11. Where the funeral director is using the services of another business or organisation, or any third party, for any part of the care of the deceased, a written Service Level Agreement must be in place. Each Service Level Agreement must be reviewed regularly and at least once per year. Where aspects of care of the deceased are being carried out by a third party, the funeral director must clearly and sensitively inform the client which aspects of the care of the deceased these are.

12. All care of the deceased must take place in a location(s) specifically chosen for that purpose and the funeral director must ensure that their care facility or mortuary is fit for purpose. This requires:

  • That the premises are lockable and accessible by authorised persons only.
  • That the premises are clean, well maintained and regularly inspected to ensure high standards of cleanliness.
  • The location of, and access to and from, the building is suitable for the designated purpose.
  • That the funeral director has access to equipment that can accommodate all body types and care services offered by the funeral director, and this equipment must be well maintained.
  • That the funeral director takes account of the Health and Safety Executive's guidance on managing infection risks when handling the deceased.

13. The funeral director must carry out a visual check of the condition of the deceased at least once every 24 hours and immediately before the coffin is closed or immediately prior to the funeral service if no coffin is being used.

Care Practices

14. The funeral director must be able to demonstrate that they have assessed the activities undertaken by every staff member whose role includes duties of care of the deceased. A record of each assessment, the outcome of the assessment and training requirements/training undertaken must be kept by the funeral director and made available to inspectors on request.

First offices

15. When requested, the funeral director must describe their services for first offices in a way that is sensitive to the client, to ensure that the client has an understanding of how the deceased will be cared for by the funeral director.

16. Where it is possible to do so, first offices must take place in every case, unless the client has specifically requested that first offices are not to take place.

17. Where first offices have not taken place, the funeral director must have a record of the reason/s for this.

18. At all times during their care, the dignity of the deceased must be maintained and appropriate shrouds, clothes and/or modesty covers used.

Embalming

19. Embalming is defined as the preservation of a body from decay through injection of a chemical embalming fluid. The preservative solution (the embalming fluid) replaces the blood as well as treating the body cavity and organs.[1]

20. Embalming is not a requirement for burial or cremation.

21. There is no requirement for the funeral director to offer embalming as a service.

22. The funeral director must provide clear information to the client about embalming in order that the client can make an informed decision about whether or not to instruct embalming.

23. The funeral director must obtain the client's informed and written permission before embalming can take place.

24. It is the responsibility of the funeral director to ensure that those performing embalming on behalf of their business are adequately trained/qualified to do so and are meeting the necessary health and safety requirements.

Emergency invasive procedures

25. In some circumstances it may be necessary for the funeral director to perform an emergency invasive procedure with the intent of preserving the deceased to a good standard.

26. In the event of these circumstances occurring, the funeral director must make reasonable attempts to contact the client and explain the circumstances in advance of performing the procedure.

27. In every case the funeral director must keep an accurate record of the circumstances and the procedure carried out. This record must be made available to inspectors on request.

Refrigeration

28. The funeral director must have on their premises, or have access to, clean and appropriate refrigeration facilities to store the deceased in their care. Where refrigeration is provided by a third party, a Service Level Agreement must be in place. Each Service Level Agreement must be reviewed regularly and at least once per year. Where refrigeration is being carried out by a third party, the funeral director must clearly and sensitively inform the client of that fact.

29. Refrigeration can be either a purpose built refrigeration unit or temperature controllable cold room. Refrigeration units and cold rooms must be kept between 4-7 degrees Celsius.

30. The required ratio for refrigeration capacity is one space for every 50 deceased persons received into the funeral director's care per year. Each deceased person must be stored individually in separate compartments within the unit.

31. Refrigeration units must be in a locked and secure location. Cold rooms must be locked and in a secure location.

Viewing of the deceased

32. As part of providing good care to the deceased, the funeral director must offer or be able to facilitate viewing of the deceased to the client as a service. The client can request to view the deceased, and appropriate costs should be made clear to them, if applicable.

33. Viewing areas must be fit for purpose, private, clean, regularly inspected and well maintained.

34. The funeral director must ensure that the identity of the deceased is checked prior to viewing, and that due regard is given to requests made by the client, such as about: make-up application, if the coffin is closed or left open, who can be permitted to view the deceased, etc.

35. The funeral director must ensure that bereaved persons are afforded privacy when viewing the deceased. The funeral director or another trained and competent member of their staff must remain near and 'on hand' to answer any questions or requests.

36. In some circumstances, viewing of the deceased may not be recommended by the funeral director or some restrictions may have to be put in place, such as viewing behind glass.

37. In circumstances where the funeral director advises against viewing entirely, the funeral director must provide the client with sensitively worded advice setting out their reasons and make every effort to support the wishes of the client in relation to that advice. The funeral director must keep a record of this advice.

38. Where the funeral director has advised against viewing but the client does not accept that advice, the funeral director must keep a record of this.


Contact

Email: burialandcremation@gov.scot