What Happens When a Loved One Dies at a Nursing Home?

Those who have an elderly parent or grandparent in a nursing home or aged care facility will be aware of the fact that one day they'll receive a distressing phone call. Your loved one's advanced age, often coupled with deteriorating health, means it's likely that their death will occur at the nursing home. What happens next?

You Will Be Contacted

If you're listed as the contact person for your loved one, a representative from the nursing home will contact you with the sad news. It's up to you to then contact other family members and friends as the nursing home will not make direct contact with these parties. 

A Death Certificate Will Be Issued

Back at the nursing home, the death will be attended by a doctor. This might be the home's dedicated doctor (if they have one), or your loved one's own GP. The doctor will issue a death certificate, which is immediately forthcoming in most cases. There can be a delay if the cause of death cannot be determined without further investigation, and you will be informed if this is applicable.

You Will Be Asked About Which Arrangements Are in Place

The nursing home will ask for your chosen funeral home. This might seem insensitive immediately after death, as though the home's staff are attempting to speed up the removal of your loved one's remains. However, the nursing home is attempting to treat your loved one with the utmost dignity. Even nursing homes with onsite medical facilities do not have the ability to store human remains for an extended period. As difficult as it is, decisions must be made as soon as possible.

You Must Choose a Funeral Home

The nursing home should be able to provide you with a list of local funeral homes. You're under no obligation to make a selection from any such list. You might prefer to ask friends who have recently farewelled a loved one for their recommendations. You could also do your own research to choose an appropriate funeral home. Bear in mind that this decision must often be made relatively quickly.

The Funeral Home Will Handle the Logistics

Once a funeral home has been chosen, they will liaise with the nursing home. This permits the release of your loved one's remains, allowing them to be transported to the funeral home where they can be safely stored as this facility certainly has the capacity to store human remains. You, perhaps in conjunction with other family members and friends, can then begin to make the necessary funeral arrangements to farewell your loved one.

A death in the family is always an inconceivable tragedy. When your family member is in a nursing home or aged care facility, it can be helpful to have an understanding of the process when death occurs. Contact a local funeral home to learn more.