Second Edition Of ‘Care After Death’ Now Available

The second edition of ‘Care after Death: guidance for staff responsible for care after death’ is now available.

It aims to help ensure that a person who has died is cared for and that there is well co-ordinated support which respects the wishes of the deceased and their families. 

Care After Death is aimed at the different professionals involved in care and support for people just before and after death, including: nurses, doctors, mortuary staff, ambulance staff, pathologists and funeral directors.

The updated guidance has been endorsed by many of the UK’s leading health and care organisations, namely: the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), NHS Improving Quality, the National Nurse Consultant Group (Palliative Care), the Royal College of Pathologists, Hospice UK and the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC).

The guidance covers many different aspects of care after death for adults including:

  • Respecting the religious or cultural wishes of the deceased and their family where possible and ensuring legal obligations are met
  • Ensuring timely verification of death
  • Preparing the deceased for viewing, where appropriate and supporting the family
  • Offering the family present the opportunity to participate in the process and supporting them to do so
  • Ensuring, where relevant, that families are informed about the need for post mortem examination and given information about tissue retention and disposal methods
  • Preparing the deceased for transfer to the mortuary or the funeral directors premises
  • Ensuring the privacy, dignity and respect of the deceased is maintained at all times
  • Facilitating people’s wishes for organ donation
  • Returning the deceased’s property.

The first edition of Care After Death was published in 2011 and focused mainly on care for adults in acute hospitals, at home or in a care home. The updated guidance covers for the first time post-death care in mental health services and prisons.