It has always worried me that one day I may go in and find one of my clients dead.
Not a pleasant thought but a realistic one.
If you suspect an elderly person has died at home unexpectedly, the first thing to do is call 999 and ask for an ambulance immediately.
The operator will give you instructions to carry out resuscitation if possible and when paramedics arrive, they will carry out resuscitation and/or confirm the death.
You should also ask for the police immediately making sure the area is untouched, except for any action needed for resuscitation. This may seem alarmist but if the death was not expected then it is treated as a sudden death. They will then arrange for the body to be moved by a funeral director acting for the coroner or if you are in Scotland the procurator fiscal.
If the death was anticipated
You should contact the deceased’s GP or nearest doctor.
If the death happened during the night, you don’t need to contact the doctor until the following morning unless you want to. They will then issue the death certificate.
If the cause of death is known and was from natural causes
The doctor will issue the death certificate which will enable you to register the death and you may call a funeral director of your choice as soon as you feel you want to.
They provide a 24-hour service and can arrange for the deceased to be taken to a funeral home at any time – day or night.
If the doctor is unsure about the cause of death
Even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly and had not seen their doctor in the past 14 days, he/she will contact the coroner who may order a post mortem examination.
This will determine the cause of death and provide the necessary forms and certificates.