Funeral directors have become an integral part of hospice care.

Many funeral directors have provided leadership in bringing hospice care to their communities, and when you consider the philosophy of hospice and funeral service, it is clear why funeral service is a natural extension of hospice care.

With funeral planning and more open discussion of at-death needs encouraged by hospice, funeral directors and hospice caregivers continue to develop close partnerships to meet the total needs of families.

About Hospice Care
Hospice care includes care of the patient and family prior to the time of death, at the time of death of the patient, and care of the family during the period of bereavement. It is common for hospice staff to inquire into the patient and family interests regarding funeral services because hospice care includes attention to the many areas of need that can be present during this time of stress.

A Thoughtful Partnership
Hospice workers and funeral directors possess experience and professional information that converge on a common meeting ground providing services to families at the time of death. Other service providers, especially the clergy, may also be directly involved. When these disciplines have an opportunity to dialogue, this ultimate care team can establish effective means of communication to facilitate any pending needs of the family as they move through their transition.

With a greater understanding of each other’s care and areas of expertise and resources, hospice caregivers and funeral directors can work together to plan a course which makes for a more natural transition of care at the time of death and in caring for the survivors in the following months. In other words, at no time will family members be without support. These strong attachments and feelings made from one supportive environment are shared and transferred to another as they move through the process of dying, death and bereavement.

Tips for Cultivating a Shared Partnership
As with any partnership, it can take time and effort between groups to grow a relationship that can truly lay the foundation for a sense of mutual trust and respect. To facilitate this sort of interdisciplinary sharing and cooperation, some great actions to take include:

  • Open communication between local funeral directors and all other care providers.
  • Schedule onsite training sessions at the funeral home location so hospice workers can better understand funeral customs and processes.
  • Develop workshops involving hospice, clergy, funeral directors and medical staff to seek ways of sharing information and improving service to families at the time of death.
  • Funeral directors can also seek to serve on a hospice board, as an advisor, or offer educational programs dealing with dying, death and bereavement of in other capacities.

When hospice caregivers work alongside funeral directors, this care team can offer the grieving family the time and support needed to allow for thoughtful consideration of the options available for a funeral or an alternative burial.