|Title:||Direct Transfer of the Body of a Deceased Person into the Hands of Relatives|
|Document ID:||Information Circular IC 0195/14|
|Date of issue:||Wednesday, 20 August 2014|
|Description:||Information for hospital staff involved in the direct transfer of the body of a deceased person into the hands of relatives. Legal issues are dealt with and best practice procedures are described.|
|Applicable to:||Health WA|
|Period of effect:||from 1 October 2014 to 1 October 2019|
|Review date:||1 July 2019|
|Authorised by:||Professor Tarun Weeramanthri, Executive Director, Public Health and Clinical Services Division, 07-Aug-2014|
|Print version:||View print version|
Direct Transfer of the Body of a Deceased Person into the Hands of Relatives
Following a death in hospital, the body is normally transferred from the ward to the mortuary, and then handed over to a funeral director; however, in some cases, according to cultural or religious requirements, the relatives of the deceased person may request that the body be released directly to them. In such cases, the body would normally be transferred to a holding room (usually a mortuary holding room, but not inside the mortuary itself), pending arrangements for collection by relatives. The hospital should ensure that procedures are in place in order to ensure the maintenance of legal responsibility, dignity, and respect for the deceased and their relatives.
Before a body can be released under such circumstances, the following arrangements must be completed by hospital staff:
The transfer of the body from the mortuary entrance will usually be managed by a nominated funeral director, who must present written authorisation from the family for collection of the body. It is recommended that the family should also supply the authorisation for the funeral at a cemetery (a Single Funeral Permit (SFP) – see below) or Ministerial approval for burial outside of an official cemetery at this time. If the transfer is being managed by the family, they may need assistance from mortuary staff. In such a case, the family should seek advice from a funeral director on how to transport and store the body in a hygienic way, and should ensure that they comply with the conditions associated with the SFP.
Advice to family members who wish to take control of the body of a person who has died in hospital
Families who wish to arrange for burial of a relative without the intervention of a funeral director need to be aware of the potential problems associated with transfer of a body from the hospital, subsequent storage, and its burial. In most cases, the family would be best served by seeking advice on these issues from a funeral director. A fee will usually be charged for this service. A burial can be arranged within an official (proclaimed) cemetery (following the issue of a SFP – see below) or outside of a proclaimed cemetery (with approval from the Minister for Local Government and Communities (see below).
Obtaining a Single Funeral Permit to conduct a funeral at an official cemetery without the assistance of a funeral director
A cemetery or local government office in Western Australia (WA) may issue a SFP. The process of application for a SFP is a relatively complex one. Substantial documentation is required to prove that the applicant is of good reputation and has access to suitable facilities and equipment. The applicant must lodge the required burial or cremation application and associated certificates and permits. The SFP is valid only for the day of the specified funeral, and there is a fee for the issue of a Permit. Further advice can be obtained from the contact officer at the cemetery. Finally, if the burial is to take place outside of a proclaimed cemetery, the relatives will need approval from the Minister for Local Government and Communities (see below).
Obtaining permission for burial outside of a proclaimed cemetery
In WA, a burial outside of a proclaimed cemetery requires the approval of the Minister for Local Government and Communities. The details of the procedure to be followed are available on the website of the Department of Local Government and Communities (www.dlgc.wa.gov.au) under the heading “Burials outside proclaimed cemeteries” in ‘the community’ section. Further information can be obtained from the Department of Local Government and Communities by telephoning (08) 6552 1500, or by e-mail at: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Professor Tarun Weeramanthri
This circular last updated: Wednesday, 20 August 2014 at 1:59pm