National Committee on Infant Cremation: code of practice

Key principles and minimum standards for all organisations conducting infant cremations, as agreed by the National Committee on Infant Cremation.



1. This Code of Practice contains the professional standards that funeral directors must uphold in respect to arrangements for infant and child cremation. Funeral directors must act in line with the requirements of the Code, whether they are communicating directly with parents or allied organisations, to ensure consistency of approach.

2. The Code's series of statements aim to set out best practice that puts the needs of parents and families first. Following the Code will provide additional assurance to parents and families that they can place their trust and confidence in the hands of funeral directors.

3. This Code relates primarily to individual infant cremations, but includes where information relevant to shared cremations should be borne in mind. Funeral directors who have an arrangement (eg transportation) with an NHS Health Board regarding shared cremation or burial services should ensure they are adhering to that Health Board's designated required standards.

Code of Practice


8. Parents must be treated as individuals and the dignity of the deceased must be maintained. To achieve this, funeral directors must:

8.1 treat parents with sensitivity, kindness, respect and compassion.

8.2 ensure trained funeral service staff communicate sensitively with, meet with, listen to and follow the wishes of the parents, allowing time for decision-making based on a clear understanding of eg the choice between burial and cremation and other funeral options, without undue haste or pressure.

8.3 ensure the fundamentals of care of the deceased and the arrangements for the funeral are carried out in accordance with the needs of the parents (clients), within the parameters of the law.

8.4 avoid making any assumptions, check understanding and recognise diversity and individual choice.

8.5 respect the dignity and care of the deceased.

8.6 discuss options (where applicable) with parents for shared cremation.

8.7 organise and personalise the funeral to reflect the wishes of the parents within the parameters of the law.

8.8 offer parents the choice of a private family funeral or the option to open the funeral service to all.

8.9 respect a parent's right to privacy in all aspects of the care of their baby, infant or child.


9. A family's decision on whether to cremate or bury can be affected by whether ashes can be retrieved and returned to them afterwards. For this reason, funeral directors must:

9.1 be aware, and advise the family if applicable, that the accepted definition of 'ashes' is now 'all that is left in the cremator at the end of the cremation process and following the removal of any metal' irrespective of their composition.

9.2 make clear to the family, if there is contact with them, that ashes from shared cremations are scattered together and therefore it is not possible to return ashes in this instance.

9.3 make clear to the family that whilst crematoria will make every effort to maximise the recovery and return of ashes from individual cremations, this cannot be absolutely guaranteed.

9.4 openly communicate all scenarios surrounding the retention and ultimate sensitive disposition of any retained ashes.

9.5 ensure the decision as to whether ashes are returned (if recovered) is made by the parents.

Allied Organisations

10. Funeral directors are recognised as the vital link between other allied organisations and with the parents, therefore it is vital that funeral directors are well-versed and familiar with their procedures following loss of a baby, infant or child. To achieve this, funeral directors must:

10.1 ensure local processes are in place to enable regular contact and discussion with all allied organisations i.e. crematoria, health trusts and boards, NHS and children's hospices.

10.2 regularly meet with partner crematoria to ensure staff are fully aware of any differing equipment or processes which could affect the possibility of recovery of ashes.

10.3 seek collaboration and communication to ensure clients receive transparent information in order to reach an informed decision eg inclusion of appropriate extracts from cremation authority published policy statements in public facing leaflets.

10.4 care should always be taken if organ retention or further testing is required and factored into the timing of the service.

Training and Administration

11. Funeral directors must:

11.1 have the knowledge of how the selected crematorium carries out pre and post 24 week gestation, stillbirth and infant cremations.

11.2 ensure staff are trained according to the requirements of the Code of Practice.

11.3 ensure a full copy of all signed documentation is given to parents.

11.4 ensure that parents (the client/applicant) review and sign the appropriate cremation documentation accordingly.

11.5 ensure accurate records are maintained and retained.

11.6 not dispose of ashes until 14 days have passed after instructions have been received, unless otherwise instructed.



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