1. Introduction and background
This report presents the analysis of the Scottish Government's public consultation on its proposed Funeral Director: Code of Practice (the Code), as per Section 97 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016.
The Code will enhance funeral directors' standards of care for deceased people and standards of support for bereaved people in Scotland, by setting requirements (a set of minimum standards) across a range of different areas ('sections' in the Code). The sections of the draft Code are:
1. Engagement of a funeral director and transfer of deceased people;
2. Care of deceased people and the premises used by the funeral director;
3. Planning of the funeral service according to the wishes of deceased and bereaved people;
4. Delivery of the funeral;
5. Complaints; and
6. Business continuity and managing risks.
The Code aims to achieve the following outcomes:
- Increase transparency of choice of goods and services to help customers make informed decisions.
- Ensure standards of care in relation to care of the deceased are met.
- Create and promote a common understanding of good practice in relation to care of the deceased.
Funeral directors will be inspected against the Code and other regulations. They will also be required to meet the requirements of a licensing scheme (to be developed). The Scottish Government will publish inspection reports and actions will be taken against funeral directors who do not meet the set requirements.
The Code was developed in 2019 by the Short-life Working Group on Care of the Deceased (SLWG), chaired by Natalie McKail, former Inspector of Funeral Directors. The purpose of the SLWG was to explore the current standards for operation, training and care of the deceased used by funeral directors and how these existing standards might inform a future Code of Practice. In doing so, the SLWG's Terms of Reference stated the group would:
- Ascertain which standards currently exist including industry standards, Health and Safety Executive standards, trade association standards, other guidance.
- Identify areas of good practice within existing standards, guidance etc. and gaps or areas for improvement.
- Use their practical knowledge and expertise to define five or six key themes of care.
- Define the underpinning principles for a future statutory Code of Practice.
Members of the SLWG included: independent funeral directors; the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD); the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF); the British Institute of Embalmers (BIE); the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM); Co-operative Funeralcare; and Dignity Plc. Members participated in four workshops held over four sessions in 2018 to develop the Code.
Representatives and members of the associations on the SLWG had the opportunity to respond to this consultation.
The Funeral Director: Code of Practice Consultation ran online between 21 June and 20 September 2019 and received 86 responses. The consultation questions focused on the sections of the draft statutory Code that would potentially have the greatest impact on funeral directors. The consultation also included four questions on the topic of qualifications. Although funeral industry qualification requirements are not in the draft Code, the Scottish Government was also keen to understand industry views on this subject in order to inform the Government's thinking on regulating the industry.
The consultation consisted of 18 questions. Most of these included a fixed response question (i.e. selecting a response from a range of options) along with the option to provide further comments to explain their answer. Two questions were exclusively open-ended – question 16 on equality impacts and question 18, which invited respondents to provide any other comments they wished to make on the Code. The consultation document is available on the Scottish Government's consultation hub website at: https://consult.gov.scot/population-health/funeral-director-code-of-practice/.
Analysis and Reporting
This report presents both quantitative findings (the number responding a certain way) as well as qualitative information (detailed information about written responses). Responses were downloaded into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and were analysed on a question-by-question basis. Responses to the closed questions are reported in tables of results. Responses to the open-ended questions were analysed using a Thematic Analysis methodology, which focuses on identifying themes in the data. The aim was to identify the most common points made, as well as the range of views expressed in relation to each question. These data are presented descriptively, and supported by direct, anonymised quotations from respondents (where permission was given for responses to be published).
The questions asked in the consultation were intended to increase the information available to the Scottish Government about topics within the draft Code, particularly about areas deemed to potentially impact the sector most. For reporting purposes, the analysis is divided into seven sections, which groups together questions on a similar theme:
1. Facilities: Questions 1-5
2. Qualifications: Questions 6-9 and 11
3. Timeframes: Questions 10 and 12
4. Barriers: Questions 13-15
5. Impacts on the People of Scotland: Question 16
6. Reportable Incidents: Question 17
7. Other comments: Question 18
Like other consultations, the responses to this consultation are not necessarily representative of the views of the wider public. Anyone can submit their views to a consultation and individuals (and organisations) who have a keen interest in a topic – and the capacity to respond – are more likely to participate in a consultation than those who do not. This self-selection means that the views of consultation respondents cannot be generalised to the wider population. For this reason, the main focus in analysing consultation responses has been to understand the range of views expressed and the reasons for those views.
Profile of Respondents
The Scottish Government was keen to gather the views of funeral directors, local authorities, private burial or cremation authorities, funeral industry trade body representatives and any other groups or individuals with a working knowledge of funeral directing, burial, cremation or the wider funeral industry. The Scottish Government also wanted to hear from members of the public. Responses were received from all groups. Most responses were received through the online consultation hub, with a minority received by email.
Of the 86 responses, 52 (60%) were received from organisations and 34 (40%) from individuals. Organisation respondents were asked to identify which organisation they were responding on behalf of (see Tables 1 and 2). The largest category of respondent was 'funeral director organisation' (31 responses).
|Category||Number of respondents||Percentage of all respondents|
|Category of Organisational Representative||Number of respondents||Percentage of all respondents (n=86)|
|Funeral director organisation||31||36%|
|Funeral industry trade body||4||5%|
|Faith/religion based organisation||8||9%|
|Other organisation (e.g. guidance, sales)||3||3%|