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What to do when someone dies in a care home

If your loved one passes away while being cared for in a care home, the staff will know what to do and the processes that must be followed. They are there to help and will be able to advise you on the next steps.


What happens immediately after their death?

If you are not present when your loved one passes away, care home staff will notify you as soon as possible after their death. You can request to see your loved one if you wish to.


If the death was expected

The death will need to be verified by a medical practitioner and the GP notified so that they can certify the death. Care home staff will usually do this on your behalf. If the death has been expected or the GP has seen your loved one in the last 14 days, the doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, allowing you to register the death.


If the death is unexpected

If the death is sudden or of unknown or suspicious causes, the doctor or care home staff will contact the Coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland). The Coroner or Procurator Fiscal may order a post-mortem examination or inquest to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the death to be registered. It is important to note that a funeral cannot be conducted until the Coroner’s inquest has been completed and cause of death established.


What happens to my loved one’s body if they die in a care home?

Care home staff are trained to ensure that your loved one is properly looked after. They will usually be moved to their room, or another private space, where they can lie in peace until the family have been notified, the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death has been provided and the funeral provider chosen by the deceased’s family is able to collect the body.


What will happen to my loved one’s possessions if they die in a care home?

The care home will usually contact you (or the next of kin) to arrange a convenient time for you to collect your loved one’s belongings. Most care homes will request that you sign paperwork to acknowledge receipt of these items.


What to do next

> Get a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

> Register the death

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