We’re here year-round, 24/7 to help people navigate the medical and legal processes before and after death. We work with Middlemore Hospital and Counties Manukau DHB, and have plans to extend this service to other DHBs. People rely on us as their professional, caring guide through this challenging journey. We work with whānau/familyas early as possible to understand what they want, and give them the accurate, factual information they need to make informed decisions.
When a patient’s death is confirmed, the next of kin are notified.
A dedicated Communio Bereavement Care Coordinator will come to the hospital ward and answer questions about what happens next. They’ll guide the family through the processes needed to have the deceased leave the hospital.
The BCS Coordinator may arrange for the deceased and their family to go to the BCS facility – a private space within Middlemore Hospital - to spend time together, while making practical arrangements.
The family may choose to appoint a funeral director, and the BCS Coordinator will provide local contact details for these services.
The Coordinator may liaise with religious, cultural and translation services if needed, and arranges the required paperwork to be completed so the deceased can be released from hospital.
If the whānau/family or doctor have concerns about the patient or their cause of death, the Coroner will be asked to establish these circumstances. The BCS Coordinator will keep the whānau/family informed and offer support.
Working with the New Zealand Eye Bank, the BCS Coordinator will check eligibility and raise the option of tissue donation. They can also arrange for tissues or body parts to be returned to the whānau/family.
The Medical Certificate of Causes of Death (HP4720) and if needed, the cremation documentation, is completed online by the doctor in most instances and is then automatically sent to the Ministry of Health, and can be accessed by funeral directors and medical referees. In some case these forms are still completed on paper. The actual death certificate is then issued by the Department of Internal Affairs.
The deceased can be released to the funeral director or into the care of loved ones. If families have any concerns, the BCS team will help to set up a follow-up meeting between the whānau/family and hospital staff.
BCS is there to support parents and whānau/families in the event of the death of a baby, to walk them through the legal requirements and process. With the parents’ consent, they can help with washing and dressing the baby, taking photos, hand and footprints, and providing mum with a support gift care pack donated by BabyLoss New Zealand. BCS also facilitates the process of the baby leaving the hospital.
A Medical Certificate of Causes of Death is completed by a doctor when someone dies. It’s submitted to BCS who pass it on to the funeral director, who then forwards it to the Ministry of Health. Whānau/families do not see this certificate. The Death Certificate is a document prepared by Internal Affairs to confirm that someone has died. The whānau can get a copy of this Death Certificate normally through their funeral director or directly from Internal Affairs.
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