COVID-19 Support and Information

Essex Carers Support is changing the ways that it delivers its services in order to best assist and support carers during these difficult and unprecedented times.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you are a carer and want to talk to one of the team.

Under usual circumstances carers are best placed to provide information to hospital staff about the person that they care for. Whist visiting is not possible and contact with wards is more difficult we would recommend that you prepare information about the person you care for so that, should they be admitted to hospital you will have this ready to pass on.

We have prepared a one-page-summary sheet which you may want to use to assist with this. If you would like one please contact us on 01255 474410 or email us today.

Guidance: Deaths, births and funerals

Registrations

Changes to the process of registering a death and making funeral arrangements due to COVID-19

It is helpful to know about some of the changes that have been introduced in the last few weeks in order to support those we come into contact with who might be recently bereaved. These changes affect all deaths, not just those that are caused by Covid-19.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 became law on 25th March; it introduced a range of temporary changes to legislation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic including the modification of current procedures in relation to death registration, management of the deceased and to protect public health. It takes into account that families who have lost a loved one may be self-isolating and that there might be reduced capacity to register and manage deaths as a result of Covid-19 related sickness absence,

Visit the Government website to find out more about the Coronavirus Act

Some of the key changes introduced to ‘stream line’ the process and to protect public health:

  • The list of people who can register a death has been expanded to include funeral directors acting on behalf of the family

  • Electronic transmission of documents that would usually have to be physically presented at time of registration is now permitted

  • The need for a second confirmatory medical certificate in order for a cremation to take place has been removed

Registering a death

Essex Registration Service is operating on a restricted basis. Registration Offices are currently closed due to government instructions to close public libraries and gathering places. You must apply on line or call Essex County Council to arrange a telephone appointment to register a death or a stillbirth.

Visit the Essex County Council website for more about registering a death

 

Deaths must be registered within 5 days. If the death is being investigated by the Coroner this might not be possible. Southend and Thurrock have separate arrangements for registering a death.

Registering a stillbirth

Contact the Registration Service 0345 603 7632 to arrange a telephone appointment to register a stillbirth.

 

Visit the Essex County Council website for more about registering a stillbirth

Registering a birth or a notice of marriage or civil partnership

Appointments to register births are being deferred until further notice.

Note: You can make a claim for child benefit or universal credit before the registration of a birth.

Appointments to give notice of marriage or civil partnership are being deferred.

Who can register a death

The death can be registered by a relative of the person who has died or a funeral director.

Visit the Essex County Council website for further information on what is required for the registration of the death

 

Prior to the telephone appointment the medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) has to be emailed to mccds@essex.gov.uk.

If a relative is not able to register the death

Someone else can register the death if

  • They are a funeral director

  • They were there at the time of death

  • Are an administrator at the hospital or care home where the person died

  • Are in charge of making funeral arrangements for the person

Visit the Essex County Council website for more details

Following registration of the death the Registrar will send the ‘green form’ to the funeral director, (this is needed to plan the burial or cremation) and post the death certificate(s). There is no fee for registering a death, only a charge for additional death certificates if they have been requested.

Funeral Arrangements

Funerals can take place as a cremation or burial. There can be no Church services with the current closure of Church buildings although a short religious service at the crematorium or cemetery is permitted.

Visit the Essex County Council website for more details

 

Summary of changes

  • Up to 10 close family, or household members are permitted to attend the funeral. This number may be different in other parts of the country. Close friends of the deceased may attend if there are no relatives attending.

  • Families may be asked not to include full details of the funeral in Announcement Notices in the Press or to state that it is a Private Funeral.

  • The arranging of the funeral with funeral directors, ministers and celebrants should be conducted over the phone rather than face to face to avoid spread of the virus.

  • Social distancing has to be observed throughout the proceedings and mourners must remain 2 metres apart unless they are members of the same household. Individuals are asked to refrain from physical contact under the rules of social distancing to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

  • Anyone who is in the high risk ‘Shielding Group’, is self-isolating or has symptoms of Covid-19 infection should not attend. Vulnerable people over 70, who have underlying health problems or pregnant women are advised not to attend.

  • Funeral directors are not providing funeral cars and mourners are asked to travel to the funeral independently observing social distancing.

  • Mourners are not able to assist with handling, carrying or lowering a coffin. The coffin should not be touched or kissed by mourners. The coffin may be manoeuvred on a trolley rather than carried by pallbearers. 

  • There can be no wake or social gathering after the funeral.

  • It is requested that any donations are made online to avoid the handling of cash.

  • Funeral flowers are permitted although many florist shops are currently closed. The funeral director will be able to advise.

  • Use of the hymn books at crematorium is not permitted in interest of public safety; service sheets may be used.

  • Selected music may be played; the funeral director will arrange this with the crematorium.

  • The service at the crematorium is likely to be shorter than usual to allow for cleaning between services.

 

Viewing the deceased

  • The facility to view a loved one within the hospital Chapel of Rest is not currently being offered.

  • It is not possible to have the coffin to rest at your home prior to the funeral at the present time. Funeral directors are currently unable to offer embalming.

  • Close family members may visit the funeral home to view the deceased by prior arrangement with the funeral director if the death is not related to Covid-19. It is requested that no more than two relatives visit at a time and social distancing is observed. Those who are at an increased risk of serious illness due to coronavirus (as defined by government guidance) are strongly urged not to visit.

  •  If the death is related to Covid-19 then it will not be possible for relatives to visit and view the deceased.

  • It may not be possible for the deceased to be dressed in their own clothes as wished by the family; the funeral director will advise on this.

 

Other arrangements

 

  • Crematoria at Weeley and Colchester offer facilities to record or live-stream the funeral service.

  • The book of remembrance room at Weeley Crematorium is closed for the foreseeable future, including weekends, however you can still view the online book of remembrance.

  • Cemeteries and crematoria were closed on 25th March under the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 for anything other than funeral services.

 

Update 18/04/20: Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that cemeteries would remain open for the purpose of laying flowers and paying of respects.

Funeral directors, crematorium staff and mortuary staff are all considered Key Workers. There are strict guidelines for anyone who comes into contact with a deceased person with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infection including wearing of PPE.

Visit the Government website for more information

Funeral directors have to carry out their responsibilities adhering to Government guidelines on social distancing and protecting the health of mourners and their own employees.

There can be slight differences in the ways that funeral directors carry out their services; they will advise relatives accordingly.

Impact on bereaved

Funerals play an important and central role in the grieving process for many families. Funerals are the time families and friends come together to remember the person who has died, to comfort each other and share their grief. Funerals will take place that may not follow the spiritual or cultural traditions of the family, or be able to be as the person themselves wished for.

Being bereaved can be a lonely time, and isolation due to the current situation can make it more difficult as people are apart from their usual support networks. Due to social distances people are unable to express their feelings and comfort one another in the usual ways.

If someone dies of coronavirus or complications resulting from the virus, a number of things may be particularly hard for family and friends to deal with. Infection controls may mean that family members do not have an opportunity to spend time with someone who is dying, or to say goodbye in person.

Involving people who are unable to attend the funeral

There are various ways that those who are unable to attend the funeral can be involved. The funeral director will be able to discuss options of recording or live-streaming the proceedings. Other ways are suggested on the following websites:

The Marie Curie website, organising funerals

The Marie Curie website, saying goodbye

The CRUSE website

The National Association of Funeral Directors website

Families are using online facilities such as Zoom to participate in a family ‘gathering’ to share memories of the person who has died. The main disadvantage is that it can exclude those who do not have the necessary technology or skill to be able to access this approach.

Under the present circumstances an increasing number of families are now considering the option of a simple unattended funeral for their loved one. This is a direct cremation without a funeral service; there is no hearse or flowers and no family or friends present. This leaves families with the option of organising a more personal event later, maybe a memorial service, ash scattering or a celebration of life.

Supporting the bereaved

The Essex County Council website, bereavement support

St Helena Hospital website

St Helena are working in partnership with Age Concern Colchester and NE Essex and CVS to develop a responsive bereavement support service delivered by counsellors and trained volunteers.

Pastoral support from local Church and faith leaders

The NHS website, coping with bereavement

The CRUSE website, coronavirus

Mind website, bereavement

 

Sources of information

Tendring District Council website

The Marie Curie website

Age UK website

Funeral Directors and Monumental Masons website

Co-op website

NOTE: Information regarding Coronavirus Covid-19 is changing all the time – please check for updates on websites​.

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