As a result of the ongoing, developing situation with the global Covid-19 ("Coronavirus") pandemic, the Directors of Eaves Funeral Service Ltd. have taken the tough decision to implement changes to operating procedures, in line with Government and Trade Organisation advice. These changes take immediate effect and are applicable to all funeral services.
The most important things to remember are:
The dignity of deceased persons is paramount and will be upheld at all times
Although means of contact will change, our service and dedication to our clients will remain as normal as possible
All measures introduced are for the benefit of protecting the most vulnerable people in our community, in order to ease pressure on our NHS.
We must be particularly mindful of the fact that, ordinarily, we come in to contact with a large number of people who are in the 'at-risk' groups - elderly and some with illnesses. As well as this, our frequent contact with care and nursing homes and hospitals is considered.
Below, we have outlined the changes we will make and those that are enforced by individuals and venues with whom we liaise in order to carry out funerals and have placed these in the following categories:
Health & Well-being All measures, whether introduced by HM Government, Trade Organisations, local authorities or by individual business or groups, are primarily to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from the virus. We care deeply about our community, so it is essential that we, along with everyone else, play our part in following all guidance to do so. As a responsible, caring profession, we take this very seriously and have pledged to comply with all measures.
Of equal consideration is the health and well-being of our staff. Our business, as with many other Funeral Directors, consists of a small number of staff. It is essential that we remain fit and healthy in order to operate and provide care for those who have died and their families. This extends too, to the staff of local authorities (Crematorium, Cemetery) and to our clergy and celebrants. Unfortunately it only takes one person to be required to isolate, either through illness or through caution, to have a ripple effect on others.
All of the Funeral Directors we have spoken to have agreed to assist one another should any be affected by staff shortages.
Operating procedures In line with all advice received, the following changes to our operations have been agreed and implemented:
Face to face visits will take place only when necessary. Contact between ourselves and clients continues to be primarily by telephone. At this time, we are not able to carry out personal visits to a client's home address, however, where face-to-face visits are required, this may be at our family lounge at our premises. When so, a maximum of two visitors shall be permitted and all parties are required to wear a face covering and use the hand sanitizing facilities available.
Removal of deceased persons in to our care - Where a death occurs in hospital, usual operating procedures apply unless we are advised otherwise. Where a death occurs in a nursing/care home, we will be guided by the individual establishment on their own procedures, but this is expected to be as usual, although with absolute minimum contact with staff and family members, if present. When a death occurs at a home address, clients will be advised that the removal will take place as normal but contact with minimal / no contact with clients at that time. We will determine before attending if any person present is experiencing symptoms, is serving a period of isolation or is in a vulnerable group. In all circumstances, PPE will be worn if determined as necessary.
Funeral plans - We will continue to offer pre-paid funeral plans. We have enabled the facility to take and process any applications over the telephone and via our online portal. No personal meetings will take place.
Cleanliness - Given the nature of our business, cleanliness and hygiene have always been a priority area, however we have provided further facilities for hand washing and sanitization. Our office, public facilities and vehicles are undergoing extra deep cleaning to minimize any risks.
Visits to our premises - We envisage no change to the current procedure for paying respects at our funeral parlour, perhaps except a restriction on the number of people who attend per appointment. We now ask that any other visits to our office are only when absolutely necessary and also by appointment.
Payments - We ask that wherever possible, any payments be made by bank transfer or by card over the telephone, to reduce the number of personal contacts.
Donations - Whenever possible, we ask that charitable donations be made online to our designated donation account. To submit a donation, please send a transfer to Sort code: 01-09-54, Account number: 60810602, including the deceased's full name as reference.
All office-based staff will work from home as much as is practicable.
Hand shaking - Our staff now refrain from shaking hands. Please do not be offended if we politely decline a handshake.
Enforced changes This is an ever-changing situation and we are currently compiling information received from venues and professionals involved in delivering funerals. From information received, the following are the most common changes. Please be aware that these may change at any time as new advice and guidance is received - we endeavour to update this page as often as possible to reflect any new changes.
Clergy / celebrants will offer telephone / email / video call consultations.
Services in Churches - There are currently some funeral services in Church. Most funeral services are taking place at the graveside or at a crematorium, subject to the conditions laid down by the cemetery or crematorium authorities. The Church in question has the right to decide whether they will open the building for use for a funeral. Unless the capacity of the venue dictates a lower figure, the absolute maximum attendance allowed is thirty, which includes the service leader and anyone else required to deliver the ceremony.
Services in Crematoria - unless the capacity of the venue dictates a lower figure, the absolute maximum attendance allowed is thirty, which includes the service leader.
Reception venues - As of 4 July, some venues may offer their facilities for funeral receptions if they feel they are able to offer a safe environment to do so.
In the case of confirmed Coronavirus-related death, we may have to arrange a prompt funeral to prevent unnecessary storage and handling of the deceased.
Other measures are now in force to ease systems should there be an increased number of deaths, in terms of who can register a death and statutory paperwork.
Please be assured that certain plans have been in place for some time to cope with situations where there are excess deaths and that whatever happens, everyone who can will work together to assist those affected wherever possible.
Our current clients have been exceptionally understanding. We thank all our clients for your help and co-operation at this very difficult time.
Funeral Ceremony FAQ's
Are funeral services still going ahead? Funeral services are taking place, mostly in a crematorium chapel or at a graveside. Some Churches are now available for services.
Who can attend a funeral service? A combination of family and friends are now permitted. An absolute maximum of thirty people are permitted to attend a funeral ceremony, including the service leader. In all cases, the funeral arranger will be requested to fill in an 'attendance log' of the names of those that have been given permission to attend. Only those named on the attendance log will be permitted access to the venue.
Can I attend the crematorium or cemetery grounds from a distance? It is not recommended that anyone, other than the agreed group, travel to the place of the ceremony. Doing so is in contravention of regulations relating to public gatherings.
How many people are allowed? Absolute maximum of thirty, or in the case of smaller venues, a lower figure may be given to enable safe social distancing
Are there other ways I can pay my respects? The most favoured way at present is to respectfully stand at the roadside as the cortège passes. When a family asks us to, we will publicise the agreed route in advance.
Are facilities available for sanitising and should PPE be worn? Ceremony venues should have hand sanitising facilities available for attendees. As of 8 August 2020, face-coverings will be mandatory for all indoor funeral ceremonies.
Can the service be recorded / streamed? There are facilities available for a funeral ceremony to be recorded for the benefit of those who cannot attend. If public WiFi is available at the venue of choice, live-streaming may be possible.
Are there services which are unavailable? Regrettably, some services are currently unavailable, such as taking the deceased into their own residence prior to the funeral. These will all be reviewed and made available when safe to do so and suitable processes are in place.
Are there changes to office hours? Our staff are working from home as much as possible. Our office and funeral parlour times are currently set at 0900-1600 Mon-Fri and 0900-1200 at weekends should appointments be required. Staff will not necessarily be ever-present in the office during these hours, so appointments are a necessity.
Can funeral arrangements be made at the family home or at the funeral home? Regrettably, personal visits in a family home cannot take place at this time. Arrangements are being made by telephone, email and video call. Documentation is sent and signed electronically wherever possible. When necessary, arrangements can now be made at our premises with a maximum of two visitors, who must all wear face coverings.
Are there changes to visiting at the funeral parlour? We are operating an appointment-only system between the hours of 0900-1600 Mon-Fri and 0900-1200 Sat & Sun. We request a maximum of three persons present per visit, who should be from the same household. As of 24 July, face coverings must be worn.
Are there conditions if the death was due to the COVID-19 virus? A funeral ceremony can proceed as per above, although if any proposed attendees have had recent contact with the deceased, they will be requested to serve a period of isolation. Our current policy is that, although we will carry out preparations for the deceased, viewing at the parlour should not take place.