Including people with dementia, where possible, in funeral arrangements and on the day of the funeral helps them express their emotions and say their farewells in a way that works for them.
This Guide helps to create awareness and gives practice tips on how to have a dementia-friendly funeral. The Guide is free to download. Get your e-copy here:
The Guide is a starting point. We hope it inspires funeral professionals to learn more about dementia and to think about specific actions they can do to make their services more dementia friendly.
If you’d like to receive printed copies of the Guide, send me an email. Printed copies are free, you only pay for package and posting.
The Guide’s launch at Golders Green Crematorium
The Guide was officially launched on Thursday 11th July 2019, at Golders Green Crematorium in North London. Around 40 funeral professionals had gathered to become Dementia Friends and to learn how to make funerals more dementia friendly.
The evening started with an interactive Dementia Friends information session, hosted by Patrick Gray, Dementia Champion and former Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator for Haringey and Merton.
After a break we focused on dementia-friendly funerals, presented by yours truly and based on insights previously published in my blogposts: ‘How to have a dementia-friendly funeral’ and ‘Making funerals dementia-friendly: why, what, how.’
We had some engaging discussions, discussing, amongst others:
- How to tell someone with dementia that a loved one has died?
- What are ways to include them in the funeral arrangements?
- How do photos, music, objects and sensory techniques help them connect to memories and feelings?
- How can we best support people with dementia on the day of the funeral?
- If they don’t attend a funeral, what other ways are there to help them express their grief and say their farewells?
- How can we make funeral homes and crematoria sites more dementia friendly?
- What are our boundaries as funeral professionals?
Some key insights:
- There is no single approach that works for all. Dementia and grief affects everyone differently. It is important to take a person-centred approach.
- It is important to create a supportive environment for the person with dementia so they feel relaxed and safe.
- If funeral professionals and the family/carers work as a team, guided by the person with dementia, a funeral can be a positive experience for all involved.
How to make the most of the Guide
Some suggestions on how to use the Guide:
- Share the Guide with other funeral professionals.
- Improve awareness and understanding: read about dementia, talk to family members and carers, open up the conversation with fellow funeral professionals
- Become a Dementia Friend, and maybe even a Dementia Friend Champion so you can facilitate Dementia Friends Information Sessions in your community.
- Consider to organise a dementia seminar. The one we did at Golders Green Crematorium was organised in association with The London Cremation Company and Dementia Friendly Haringey:
- Coffee/tea (30 mins)
- Dementia Friends Information session (1 hour)
- Break + refreshments (30 mins)
- Dementia-friendly funerals (75 mins)
Further reading and useful resources
The following websites and resources provide useful information about dementia and inspiring insights in what it’s like to live with dementia:
- Alzheimer’s Society
- Social Care Institute for Excellence. Information, guidance, resources and accredited training for anyone supporting people with dementia.
- Teepa Snow, occupational therapist with forty years of clinical practice experience and one of the world’s leading educators on dementia (care).
- Dementia Diaries. Personal records of people living with dementia.
- Wendy Mitchell, Somebody I Used To Know
- Agnes Houston, Talking Sense. Living With Sensory Changes and Dementia (free download here)
Share your stories and good practice tips
We would love to hear your experiences, good practice tips and stories. Please share them in the comments below.