What happens next? A guide for families when a loved one dies at a care home
03 Apr 2024

We are living in times of an increasingly ageing population. Many people are fortunate enough to spend their final days at home while others need the benefits of the exceptional care provided by a residential home.

The death of a loved one is often difficult to deal with but there are arrangements that need to be made and someone - in most cases a near relative - will have to take on the responsibility of arranging the funeral in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.

The process following a care home death is much the same as when a person dies at home - but a care home bereavement brings the additional support of the home’s staff in offering advice for loved ones in terms of what they need to do and when.

Making funeral arrangements may be completely alien to a loved one - particularly if they have not done it before, so we have put together some frequently asked questions posed by relatives which may help care home staff after the death of a resident. 

Q: How can I be sure of arranging the funeral my loved one wants?

A: “The deceased may have left details of their wishes with a trusted relative or friend. The residential home will need to be advised of which funeral director is to be contacted when the time comes.”

Q: What happens when my relative dies at a care home?

A: “Staff at the home will contact you, if you are not at the premises at the time, and will advise on what needs to be done. If the death was expected and the deceased has been seen regularly by the doctor, the GP will issue a certificate giving the cause of death. You or the care home at your instructions, will then be able to contact a funeral director who will arrange to take care of the deceased. 

“If the cause of death is unknown and it isn’t possible to obtain a death certificate, the death will be reported to the coroner and a post mortem may be needed at a mortuary to identify the cause. The coroner will inform you when a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death has been issued and at this point you can get a Death Certificate and continue with plans for the funeral. 

“But if the cause of death remains unknown or is suspicious, an inquest will be held where the coroner will investigate further. During this period an Interim Death Certificate may be issued which will permit you to proceed with the funeral arrangements.”

Q: How do I know which funeral director to choose?

A: “The choice of funeral director may have been made known to you by the deceased, listed in the deceased’s will or written down among the deceased’s personal documents, or there may be a funeral plan in place.”

Q: Why select WRR Pugh & Son?

WRR Pugh & Son replies: “We have a great deal of experience in working within care homes, an excellent relationship which means there will never be any delays or problems when we are called in - day or night as we are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

“WRR Pugh & Son has been serving the people of Shropshire for more than 130 years and during that time we have built up an enviable reputation of care for the deceased and support for their loved ones. This allows us to fulfil all the necessary arrangements and requirements with the highest degree of professionalism.

“We are with you every step of the journey and you can always be assured that you and the deceased are always top of our priorities.”