The National Association of Funeral Directors gives advice for those who have lost a loved one and need to organise a funeral:
Entrusting care of a loved one that has died to a funeral director, at a time when you are grieving, can feel like a difficult decision.
A really good funeral director is there to help and will do far more than simply help you organise the funeral. They will be at your side through the traumatic first few weeks after the death, helping you through the difficult process of saying goodbye – providing you with as much, or as little, practical support as you need.
But the issues you need to consider when choosing a funeral director go further. You also need to feel confident in the standards of care they will provide, that they will look after the person that has died with both compassion and professionalism – and your loved one will be treated with respect.
Whether you are choosing a full funeral service, at a crematorium, place of worship or burial ground, or you prefer not to be present so are considering an unattended (sometimes known as ‘direct’) cremation, it is important that you can feel confident in the people that are making the arrangements for you.
We spoke to funeral directors across Kent and their key advice was to take as much time as is needed and find out as much as possible about the funeral directors you are considering, by checking out their websites, giving them a call or arranging to pop in and see them.
Grant Marshall, a Ramsgate-based funeral director who chairs a group of funeral professionals from across Kent that are all part of the National Association of Funeral Directors, is clear about what the public has a right to expect: “Ask funeral directors plenty of questions, check out their reputation and make sure you’re happy that they can provide the services and support you need.
“You need to feel satisfied that your funeral director is someone you can confidently entrust your loved one and their funeral wishes to. A responsible funeral director will understand this and will work hard to ensure you have everything you need to come to an informed decision.
“Operational standards at funeral firms in England are not currently regulated by the government – however, funeral directors can choose to demonstrate their commitment to delivering high standards of care by joining a trade body like the National Association of Funeral Directors, which requires its members to be inspected, comply with a code of practice and participate in a complaints and resolution scheme.”
He also noted that new legal requirements had recently come into force. “All funeral homes are now required to make pricing information easily accessible for customers when they visit, or on their websites. The public should expect to find detailed price lists and service information, to enable them ask any questions they might have before making a decision.”
All funeral homes offer both attended and unattended (direct) funeral services, but increasingly there are also national firms offering direct cremation services via the internet to families in Kent too.
These firms will collect your loved one and return their ashes to you, after a cremation which you do not attend.
If you are considering using one of these firms – but there is no funeral home to visit, or funeral director to meet – how can you satisfy yourself of the standards of care your loved one will receive?
Whether you would prefer to use a local funeral firm to carry out a direct cremation – or an internet-only service provider, the National Association of Funeral Directors advises that you should still expect the same high standards, quality of care and levels of communication as you would if you were arranging an attended funeral service.
Key questions to ask of any direct cremation provider you are considering:
- What industry standards does the firm work to and are their facilities and standards independently inspected?
- Are there any restrictions on when my loved one will be collected?
- Where will my loved one be taken from place of death?
- Where and when will the cremation take place?
- Is a hearse used to convey my loved one to the crematorium?
- If I change my mind, can I see my loved one and attend the funeral service after all?
From January 2022, a new funeral standards organisation will be taking over responsibility for overseeing the quality of care provided by many of the leading funeral homes across Kent.
The Independent Funeral Standards Organisation (IFSO) will take over responsibility for monitoring standards in the funeral profession from the NAFD, providing independent scrutiny and helping ensure that bereaved families can feel even more confident that the firm they choose to arrange the funeral of a loved one will care for them to the highest professional standards.
To find a funeral firm in Kent that is inspected, abides by a code of practice and offers an independent complaints service, please visit funeral-directory.co.uk