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:
All non-essential contact is stopped - This is a particularly tough decision to make. Our business is very community-based and our personal meetings with our clients are an important part of our service. However, in order to act responsibly and within guidance, we must now refrain from personal visits whenever possible, regardless of the current health of individuals involved. Contact with our clients will primarily take place by telephone, email, video calls etc. Where no other option exists and where only absolutely necessary, a visit may take place, and if so, this shall be limited by both time and the number of persons present. All other Funeral Directors we have spoken to are adopting the same procedure.
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. No face-to-face meetings.
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 and may impose a limit lower than that currently mentioned by the Government.
Services in Crematoria - Distington Hall Crematorium and Carlisle Crematorium have issued the following advice:
We will not meet and greet relatives and friends before or after a funeral service.
To reduce the potential spread of the virus we recommend that numbers attending funerals be reduced. (24 max at Carlisle, 18 encouraged at Distington).
All hymn books will be removed from our Chapels avoiding the possibility of cross contamination.
Please leave at least one seat between yourself and others also it is recommended that alternate rows of seats be used.
Please remove any tissues or other personal belongings when leaving the Chapel.
If you feel unwell, please do not attend the service.
Reception venues - Currently closed - venues may open from 4 July 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? Government guidance has not changed, and remains that only close family members should attend a funeral ceremony and not more than that recommended by the chosen venue, where a cap has been set. Where there are no family members of the deceased, it is permissible for a modest number of close friends to attend.
Can I attend the crematorium or cemetery grounds from a distance? It is not recommended that anyone, other than the agreed close family group, travel to the place of the ceremony. Doing so is in contravention of regulations relating to public gatherings.
How many people are allowed? This may vary from venue to venue to allow safe social distancing - please check with the venue. That number should still be for close family only.
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. Attendees are welcome to wear gloves and face-coverings if they wish. As a standard, our staff are currently wearing face-coverings when present at 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, so our office is currently officially closed. On occasions, staff will be at the office and can be so by agreed appointment for the exchange of items, e.g. if you are providing an outfit for the deceased.
Can funeral arrangements be made at the family home or at the funeral home? Regrettably, personal visits cannot take place at this time. Arrangements are being made by telephone, email and video call. Documentation is sent and signed electronically wherever possible.
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.
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.