COVID-19 – An Update for Our Clients

Coronavirus Client Update

25th March 2020

These are unprecedented times and as such we would ask that you help us protect our clients and colleagues by taking all necessary steps to minimise the risk of transmission.

We remain committed to serving our client families to the best of our ability during these difficult times and we are receiving regular updates containing advice and guidance from the Government and our professional trade organisations.

Please be patient as we work through these updates and understand that we are having to impose certain restrictions that we would not normally consider.

Rest assured that we will continue to work with the highest levels of dignity and respect towards both our clients and your loved one and to allow this to happen we need to ask you to :-

  • Ensure that if you have symptoms or have come into contact with someone with symptoms that you follow NHS guidance on self-isolation and do not put our colleagues at risk
  • We request that all contact is made by telephone, e-mail and video conferencing. Signing of any documentation should be done at home and then posted or delivered to us. Appointments, made in advance, will be required for any meetings on our premises with a limited number of two immediate family present in our arrangement room, whilst following the Social Distancing guidelines of maintaining 2 metres of separation
  • Currently we are able to offer a reduced visitation service for our chapels of rest, where we can accommodate small numbers of family with a prior appointment, however, this may change in the very near future and this facility may no longer be available
  • As cemeteries, crematoriums, church groups and other venues put in place strict restrictions on the type of services available and the number of people who can attend those services due to ‘social distancing’ advice, we are now seeing a move to immediate family only being allowed to attend a very short committal service
  • Due to the anticipated increase in demand on our services we are unable to delay or postpone funerals, and as such all funerals will be booked to take place at the earliest possible date and time and we would ask for your understanding in relation to this change in how we would usually operate
  • As we move through this pandemic we feel that the likelihood is that unattended basic funerals will be a requirement relatively soon, when this happens we want you to know that we will do all we can to ensure that you can arrange a fitting tribute for your loved one when the current restrictions are lifted. That means that we will help and advise you on planning a Memorial Service or Service of Thanksgiving where we honour your loved one in a way that we are unable to at the moment.

We are sure that you will have many questions that you want to ask, please do not hesitate to contact our team of committed funeral professionals who are here to serve you and your family at this difficult time.

Assuring you of our best attention at all times,

Darryl Smith

General Manager – Funerals

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Coronavirus Questions

 

 

Can I still arrange a funeral?

We are still arranging funerals, but we are now only making funeral arrangements over the telephone given the current conditions. Any visits to our funeral home need to be made by appointment and we can only have a maximum of two people present at any meeting.

We will continue to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and will answer e-mails from our ‘Contact Us’ page on our website as soon as practicable.

You can also rest assured that we will continue to care for our deceased in a respectful and dignified manner at all times.

I’m self-isolating but need to arrange a funeral

We are now making all funeral arrangements over the telephone given the current conditions, so please call us and we will advise and guide you through what we need to do. We will e-mail and / or post all forms and documents to you which are necessary to make the funeral arrangements.

What’s changed for funeral services?

We are following government advice which is being updated frequently due to these unprecedented conditions.

This has meant that much of what we used to provide has changed, such as we are :-

  • restricting face to face meetings
  • we are practicing social distancing
  • we are have stopped providing limousines and request that you use your own transport
  • cemeteries, crematoriums, church groups and other venues have put in place strict restrictions on the type of services available and the number of people who can attend those services due to ‘social distancing’ advice
  • we may have to stop offering an embalming service soon
  • we have had to ask that anyone from the higher risk groups (Over 70s, pregnant, immunocompromised) should not attend either the arrangement of the funeral
  • we have had to remove the choice and flexibility in relation to choosing a day and time for the service
  • currently burial and cremation is available, but this may change in the coming weeks following further government advice
  • as time goes on, we may have a reduced level of staff available to arrange and / or conduct the funeral,

but we want to reassure you that we will be doing everything we can to help you to say goodbye to your loved one in a dignified and respectful way.

Can I still attend a funeral?

The number of people who can attend a funeral is now limited at various cemeteries and crematoriums, therefore, if you’re planning to attend, you should check with the person who’s arranging the funeral. If you are attending please continue to follow the government advice ensuring you wash your hands regularly and as hard as it may be to do so, avoid close contact with other mourners.

The local Co-operative Funeralcare is closed, what should I do?

Unfortunately, it may not be possible for all of our funeral homes to remain open if colleagues are themselves self-isolating or become unwell. If your local funeral home has had to close temporarily, you can contact us by calling the funeral homes telephone number as calls are being transferred to colleagues who will be able to help you.

Will the funeral be delayed because of Coronavirus?

We are working towards ensuring that all funerals take place as soon as possible, that is why we are no longer able to offer choices in the day and time of the service.

Can I delay a funeral for a later date, when the government restrictions have been lifted?

We are not postponing or delaying any funerals as we do not know how long these restrictions may be in place. We are working towards ensuring that all funerals take place as soon as possible, that is why we are no longer able to offer choices in the day and time of the service.

Are there any restrictions on the type of funeral for someone who’s died from coronavirus?

Currently, there are no restrictions that prevent someone who has died from coronavirus having a funeral whether that’s for a cremation or a burial. We are closely monitoring the governments guidelines, and should the advice change we will update these FAQs.

Can I still visit my loved one in the chapel of rest?

At this time, you can continue to visit loved ones in our care. We do ask that only immediate family or close friends do this and that there is a maximum of 2 visitors to the funeral home at any one time and that where requested to you limit your time to 20 minutes per visit. This is to comply with government advice to keep gatherings down to small numbers and to enable us to manage our resources which may be limited. We also require you to call in advance and book an appointment this way we can ensure that we limit the number of visitors to the funeral home at any one time.

If your loved one’s death was coronavirus related, we are currently not permitting chapel visits on our premises, this is to prevent further onward infection and to keep you safe, we can however arrange for you to spend time with your loved one in our chapel of rest by having the coffin sealed closed.

What should I do if I can’t afford to pay for the funeral?

We understand that a funeral can be an unexpected cost. If during the funeral arrangement, you feel like the funeral is costing more than you are comfortable with, please tell our colleague. We know that money can be difficult at this time so please don’t hesitate to speak to us about ways to keep the cost down.

Have your funeral costs increased because of Coronavirus?

No, all of our prices for funerals and pre-paid funeral plans remain the same as they were before the outbreak of Coronavirus.

What should I do if I have difficulty paying for a funeral plan?

If you already have one of our funeral plans and are struggling to pay for it, please contact us and we can discuss all available options with you.

Can I still buy a funeral plan?

Yes, you can, go to our website and read / download the brochure, complete the application form and send it to us at our usual address contained within the paperwork. We do have to stress however that the majority of our time is currently spent dealing with our client families who need our services and as such there may be a delay in responding to any pre-paid funeral plan queries.

What if items in my funeral plan are no longer available due to coronavirus?

The situation is changing regularly and if there are any further limitations to the services we can offer, we will work with you and your loved ones to address this.

Can I still follow religious customs?

As we need to follow government advice, it’s highly likely that funerals carried out in this time will not be how you, or the person who’s died would originally have wanted the funeral to be. We want to reassure you that we’ll do everything we can to help you to say goodbye. We’re here to help and will guide you through the options and choices available, your Funeral Director will be able to advise on specific rituals and customs.

Will there be hygiene measures in place if I visit a funeral home?

We’re restricting the number of people visiting our funeral homes at any one time to a maximum of 2. We’ll also be following government advice on social distancing in all our funeral homes.

We have hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser available in all our funeral homes. We’re ensuring that we continue with our usual high standards of hygiene.

We are here to help support and guide you through these difficult times.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us.

You can find the latest government health guidance on coronavirus on the NHS website.