Six steps to a dignified fix

Temporary mortuaries

The provision of temporary mortuaries has been an issue that has preoccupied many different people in recent months.

A cursory glance around news websites from around the UK will elicit sobering images of everything from RAF hangars being converted, to hastily-arranged ‘super mortuaries’ put up in some of our major cities to meet the increased demand brought on by the burgeoning pandemic.

Reading a little further, it is easy to see that the situation is something that has proved logistically challenging for organisations such as local authorities who have had cause to set up such facilities.

Sensitivities around issues such as health and safety have been at the fore, combined with the need at all times to offer dignity for the deceased and their families when it comes to the storage of bodies.

Stories have emerged about scaffolding and warehousing firms and others bidding to offer their services to help equip the temporary facilities. Often these organisations are providing equipment which is usually destined for building sites, or even marquees more used to playing host to a wedding ceremony.

While the Government has offered some guidelines to funeral directors in respect of temporary facilities, it’s well worth taking time to give a little thought to the plans you’re making when it comes to the arrangement of temporary facilities, ensuring you’re going to be continuing to provide the highest of standards. It may seem an obvious thing to say, but doing so can ensure the equipment you arrange for your premises does precisely the job it is intended to do.

Here are six points to consider when you are looking to choose a supplier of temporary mortuaries.

1. Ensure the equipment you’re using is purpose-built

Mortuary racking should always be specific for the job so be sure to brief your supplier with your precise requirements, and always get a clear idea of what the facility will look like once it’s in place. A good supplier will talk you through the aesthetics of what is being provided, as well as the logistical and practical elements including ease of cleaning.

2. Dignity should be the constant watchword

Your supplier should have an innate understanding that dignity is everything when it comes to caring for the deceased. A reputable company will always provide fully rollered equipment, ensuring that there are no manual handling issues for your staff, and that the correct process is followed every time. People whose usual day job is not working within the industry will not be able to bring the necessary skills to bear.

3. Consider flexibility alongside practicality

Funeral directors often have very specific requirements, such as a system that will provide effective yet mobile cooling within the confines of the space available. A reputable supplier will always

be happy to offer a range of options before arriving at the one which offers the best solution. They will be well versed in issues such as handling of obese bodies and will therefore be able to advise with authority.

4. Ensure that health and safety is paramount

Always ask questions – however obvious you might think they are – that give you the confidence you are speaking to a company which is fully professional and has the necessary experience. The materials to be used, specifications and refrigeration techniques can be the basis for a conversation which provides you with the reassurance that you are appointing the right people to the job. Ensure there is enough space to safely move the deceased on and off the racks.

5. Talk to the experts

When you are looking for a temporary mortuary, seek out a company that is established in the field – one which has worked with funeral directors and others and can offer the products and people to provide what you need. It’s often beneficial to look at online reviews or, even better, testimonials from people they have worked with so you can be sure they have the capability and capacity to provide the support where it is needed.

6. Don’t go for a quick fix

The cheapest solution is rarely the best. Take time to look at more than one supplier, and don’t be rushed into a decision, even if you are pushed for time.

The expert’s view

Steve Huggins, Commercial Director at Flexmort, which has designed and manufactured innovative mobile mortuary and body cooling systems supplied all over the world for the past ten years, said companies offering their services yet who were not mortuary specialists brought with them more pitfalls than solutions.

“Yes, we are in a pandemic, but there is no excuse for anyone setting up temporary facilities not to offer dignity to the deceased and protection to the staff caring for the bodies. We have been involved in the planning and supply of hundreds of temporary body storage solutions over the years, including some of the more recent large temporary mortuaries.

“The equipment to do this is readily available, and it’s a crying shame that some organisations are opting for scaffolding while there are British companies who are perfectly able to manufacture mortuary racking where it is required.

“Always take time to get the right system in place, and if in doubt, then consult an expert who will be happy to help.”

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