Further updates covering Social Distancing, Singing, and Contact Tracing:
With regard to managing the funeral venue, the following rules apply:
Contact tracing: SAIF, our trade association, recommends that the lead mourner, or their nominee (who should give their contact information to the funeral director), collects the names and contact details of the funeral mourners, and these are held for 21 days after the funeral. Should the Government need to trace mourners in order to help NHS Test and Trace contain outbreaks of infection, then these details can be passed on appropriately.
Following recent measures to ease lockdown restrictions, we are pleased to see the following clarification from the Government:
Funerals should have no more than 30 people in attendance. Attendance should also be within the capacity limits of the premises so that social distancing can be strictly adhered to. In some cases that may be less than 30 people.
As a result of this advice, local crematoria have revised their limits for attendance as follows:
Exeter: St Peter’s Chapel = 30 mourners. St Paul’s Chapel = 12 mourners.
Taunton: 30 mourners
East Devon: 20, including funeral staff and minister/celebrant.
Social distancing measures will continue to be in place at all venues. There will also be restrictions on use of facilities such as waiting rooms and toilets, and on activities such as singing, and carrying & touching coffins.
Churches and chapels may also re-open, with the 30-person maximum in place, however it is expected that circumstances for each will vary widely, and some may have to remain closed for the time being.
We will of course be able to advise families on the specific circumstances for individual venues.
Restrictions to funerals across the UK are to remain in place for the foreseeable future, despite a loosening of social distancing rules in England that were announced by the Prime Minister on 10th & 11th May 2020
Advice from the Gov.uk website “Guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic” (published 19/4/20) has been developed to ensure that:
What you need to know
The grieving process and related formal and informal rituals, through which the bereaved mourn the passing of loved ones, are important for the health and wellbeing of the bereaved. The following guidance aims to balance the needs of the bereaved to mourn appropriately, whilst minimising the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. It details where exceptions can be made to the stay at home guidance currently in place. These exceptions only apply to the circumstances relating to the death of a member of the same household, a close family member or a friend.
Communities, organisations and individuals are strongly advised to take action to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) infection among mourners who are gathered to pay their respects, with a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically vulnerable and more likely to develop severe illness. These actions include:
Following on from our previous blog post concerning changes to procedure during the current Covid-19 outbreak:
In Memory Donations
Until further notice we will no longer provide a box for cash donations at funeral services. This will ensure no possible virus transmission due to handling of cash. We will set up MuchLoved tribute websites for all funerals (at no additional cost to families) which will enable charity donations to be made securely and transparently online. See our Charity Donations policy for further details.
As well as providing a safe and efficient platform for accepting and recording charity donations, our MuchLoved tribute websites also allow family and friends who may not be able to attend a funeral to interact with the site and leave thoughts, stories, photos and more. There is also the facility to post a link to any webcast / live-streaming facility that may be available.
It has always been Countryside Funerals’ aim to arrange funerals that are unique to every individual; giving their family and friends a genuinely meaningful way to say goodbye.
Restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic are, however, having a direct impact in the way that funerals are currently having to be arranged and carried out. The situation and the restrictions change almost daily, but we hope that this piece will give some guidance to anyone needing to arrange a funeral in these difficult times.
Attendance at funerals
The transmission of coronavirus at funeral gatherings to the elderly, frail, those in vulnerable groups, along with funeral and crematorium staff cannot be overlooked. Further to the UK Government’s restrictions from 23/3/20, and guidance from a group of funeral/cremation trade associations, we support their recommendations that attendance at funerals is limited to immediate family members who are not in any high-risk categories or are self-isolating. Immediate family will include
• Children (and partners)
It should also be noted that many crematoria, cemetery and church authorities are limiting the numbers attending in any case. Depending on the venue, this number can typically vary between 0-25. Seating in venues is also set out to maintain a safe distance between people.
We will be pleased to advise families about options and costs of webcasting/live-streaming/recording funerals so that those unable to be present can have an opportunity to watch the service.
Many crematoria are now requesting that the coffin is not carried on shoulders, but instead a wheeled trolley (bier) is used, hence minimising both staff numbers present and personal contact with the coffin. Families are also requested not to touch or kiss the coffin at any time.
In order to minimise risk to both drivers and family members, we will not be making limousines or cars available to transport mourners until further notice.
Again, to minimise risk of transmission between our staff and family members, we are asking that families choose not to come and see their loved ones, although we will consider all requests and advise accordingly. Viewings will only be considered for immediate family and will be limited to no more than 2 people at a time.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help you plan arrangements and carry out funerals throughout this difficult time. If you or other family members are isolating, and to minimise personal contact, we can make most arrangements by telephone, email or skype. We can also be contacted via our Social Media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or messaging apps such as WhatsApp. We will be also be pleased to meet you by appointment, at our Gold Street office where we have hand-washing/sanitising facilities and we can meet while maintaining safe ‘social distance’. If you do require a home-visit, please contact us and we will be pleased to organise this, as long as safe-distancing can be in place.
With directives from UK Government, and advice from SAIF, our independent Trade Association, being updated daily, the situation is likely to change equally quickly for the foreseeable future. We will try and update via this blog, and our Social Media channels as quickly as we are able, but do feel free to call us on 01884 258881 for immediate assistance.
We love this new product created by 4 talented students from Tiverton's Petroc College. Off To The Stars is a unique & magical way of comforting a bereaved child, enabling parents to support them through grief and loss. The kits are priced at £11.99 and are available from our Gold Street office. Contact us for more information.
We are so pleased to be the first funeral directors in the UK to have the recently-launched ‘GriefChat’ online bereavement support service available directly from our website.
With access to real-time online chat provided by qualified, experienced bereavement counsellors, GriefChat is available free of charge from Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm.
It offers advice and support for grieving people, giving information about grief and how bereavement affects both individuals and families. The service will also be able to signpost users to other helpful bereavement care resources including online and in-print information as well as to local bereavement care services.
Emotions after a bereavement can become overwhelming, especially at this time of year with the festive season fast-approaching. That’s why we’ve chosen to offer GriefChat; to give easy, on-demand access to reputable counsellors who can provide reassurance and understanding about grief and the impact of losing someone you love.
Why use GriefChat?
In April 2017 the UK Government updated its criteria concerning the two main benefits that are available to help with paying for a funeral if you are on a low income. The two schemes are:
Clicking either of the headings above will link directly to the relevant Gov.uk website pages for both payment schemes with an overview of each, an explanation of eligibility, what you might receive, and how to claim.
We will also be pleased to speak to you personally if you're worried about paying for a funeral. Do feel free to get in touch.
We are delighted that our application to become a member of the National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) has been approved.
More than just giving clients confirmation that we adhere to a professional Code of Practice, we hope this also gives reassurance that we have robust policies in place to deal with critically important areas of our work, including the way that we handle charity donations, cremated remains, jewellery, complaints, and the Health & Safety of our staff & visitors.
Updated versions of these policies will be available in the footer of our website in the next few days. We think that ALL funeral directors should offer this level of transparency with regard to policies, procedures and prices.
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