3. Introductory Inspection Findings August 2017 – June 2018
Initial findings based on 55 premises inspection audits, plus revisits for monitoring and/or detailed analysis of practice. General observations are noted below;
- Funeral directors responsive to requests for inspection audits
- Range of practices and premises, with baseline commonality
- Desire to do their best for the bereaved and deceased
- Overall a response of positive engagement and keen to listen to recommendations
- Appetite for improvement in majority of cases
- Business investment considerations discussed e.g. capital expenditure
- Recognition of changes, moving away from linear process
- Acknowledge the voices for regulation or licensing
- Commentary on changing customer needs, expectations and subsequent emerging business models
From these visits, it is apparent that there are many areas of common practice across Scotland with a number of businesses developing areas of excellence. In these early inspection audits, however, I have also identified departures from common or good practice in relation to care of the deceased, record keeping, training and experience of staff, identity checks, authorisation and permissions.
These findings have been followed up with individual premises and actions are being taken as a result. These initial findings do reinforce the need to establish an agreed and acceptable level of good practice through regulatory intervention, and to provide an independent source of reassurance to the public.
From the inspection audits, a number of individual written recommendations have been made, from minor improvements which could be responded to more immediately, to more significant recommendations which may require additional works or investment. It should be noted that these arrangements are entirely voluntary as there is no current quality standard framework or statutory powers on inspection.
On discussing these in detail and following up in an inspection report with owners or managers, the response has been broadly positive, and the independence of the review and scrutiny has been welcomed. One service provider has now requested that unannounced visits be carried out in order for them to fully understand the delivery of operational practice in branch locations.
Scottish Government colleagues have supported me to analyse these inspection findings and a report on key themes and recommendations is available in Appendix 1. The analysis from these individual reports will both inform thinking on the introduction of regulations moving forward, specifically the statutory Code of Practice for funeral directors as set out in the 2016 Act in setting standards of care.