Funeral homes; a hospice and senior care resource.
How do funeral professionals approach senior care and hospice professionals in their respective communities to become a resource? Not a solicitation to care for their deceased clients, but a resource providing professional training, information and assistance. A funeral director is an educated, licensed professional that can become a tremendous asset with the local clergy, health, legal, senior care, and hospice professions.
When developing a marketing and operations platform for our new funeral home, I met with and listened to several hospice and senior care professionals. I asked them to share what they do for their clients, how their clients qualify for their respective services, what are the different positions within their organization and so on. These professionals were excited to share their work and passion with me. After learning about their operations, I then asked “what don’t you like about the funeral homes that you deal with regularly”? That’s when I received an earful.
“When we call during odd hours, it seems to take forever for the funeral home to respond, much less show up…the guys making the removal are very impersonal,” and so on. I asked if their organizations had a working relationship with the local funeral homes, and most indicated they did not. If anything, funeral homes would donate for their fund raisers or drop off pens and such. From this line of questioning, I then solicited from those I met with “if you owned a funeral home and you wanted to work with a local organization like yours, what would you do?” There were many suggestions, but what struck me as resoundingly important was the funeral home should be providing training and become a resource. The reluctance from those that I met with was that in the past they invited funeral homes to develop a relationship by presenting to their staff or participating in some sort of event, the hospice got the feeling that the firms just wanted to sell pre-need or some type of product.
After learning about senior care and hospice organizations, their work, their passion to make a client and their family’s transition to death comfortable, I thought through how a funeral home could be of service to their staff. Training, Education, Resource. Why not provide the staff with information about what happens after their clients die…what does the family have to deal with…how can a family prepare for death…what can families expect after the death occurs…basically once the transition work until death is complete, share how does a funeral professional carry forward the hard work started by senior care and hospice.
Upon completion of the research, I developed a training platform for staff and volunteers that have direct contact with those that are dying along with their families. Within the platform, there is no solicitation of the funeral home or its services, but information and training of what a family will need to know prior to death occurring and how to prepare. Details on subjects such as Social Security benefits, end of life legal preparedness, Veteran’s benefits, important documents such as life insurance, how a funeral home expects to be paid, what is a GPL, DNA issues, and so on. In addition, I created a website and accompanying materials as tools for those receiving the training as well as a resource for families that have a loved one facing death.
Upon presenting this training, I was overwhelmed at the reception and participation among those in attendance. Many did not know how soon after death a physician must sign a death certificate, their state’s regulations pertaining to embalming and or refrigeration, etc. Subjects and regulations that funeral professionals regularly must follow so that those in attendance may assist by providing families information prior to death; to make the transition to death easier. During the training multitudes of stories were shared by the participants from their own loved one’s death and those that they had cared for. The training provided was valuable both professionally and personally.
At the conclusion of the training, the hospice and senior care professionals now had tools and information to deliver to a family without feeling uncomfortable about the topic of impending death. Additionally, because of the training we developed a relationship…we became a resource. There was no fear that if these professionals called for any funeral service information or questions our firm would not respond with starting up the removal vehicle or requesting a meeting with a pre-need counselor.