An update regarding the UK's testing and tracing systems
SAIF continues to address questions of concern about the potential impact of the NHS test and trace system, known as Test and Protect in Scotland, on funeral businesses. Please rest assured that we are pursuing this matter urgently and discussed the issue on your behalf during this week's Cabinet Office meeting (Thursday, 4th June) and are seeking clarification about the possibility of an exemption for funeral directors, who have had contact with Covid-19 cases whilst wearing PPE, from the requirement to self-isolate. The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) holds the responsibility for the testing and tracing system, and we have asked the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG) to invite the DHSC to discuss it with us next week.
Please note that funeral directors are not alone in their concerns, with care homes and other members of the care and emergency service sectors raising questions too. We understand that the NHS test and trace system is still in its development phase and as soon as we have further information we will release guidance for members.
Official guidance on procuring body bags
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has issued the following guidance with regard to PVC body bags.
Some body bags are made from plastic-based, highly halogenated materials such as Poly-Vinyl Chloride (PVC). Combustion of PVC and other highly halogenated materials can cause dioxin formation during the cremation process. Dioxins are harmful to human health and the environment.
As a preventative measure to avoid potential dioxin emissions, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) would like to highlight the following:
Funeral costs support available to care workers affected by Covid-19.
The Care Workers' Charity has set up a special Covid-19 Emergency Fund to help care workers who are forced to take time off due to the coronavirus pandemic and need financial help with matters such as funeral costs and self-isolation living expenses.
Applicants must work in a role that is involved in or supports the provision of adult, elderly or disability care. These may include residential social care, domiciliary/home care, supported living care. If a care worker is responsible for paying for the funeral costs of a next of kin (partner, parent, sibling, child, or other on a case-by-case basis), the charity is offering up to £2,000 grants/per applicant (whilst funds last). If the care worker has passed on, the next of kin or employer may apply on behalf of the family.
Further information about this support is available here and may be of interest to families in your care.
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National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)
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