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Cleaning up a dead person in a hospice setting

Posted

Just want to hear from all of you

My line of Nursing was in Surgery and then in a psyche unit and now i have this PRN hospice work that i will try my hands on in the near future. Unfortunately, in my many years of nursing, I never had the opportunity to really clean up a dead person. Now in this hospice work, i would be expected to know how to clean up a dead person and put them in a body bag. Would appreciate to hear your stories and maybe some comments and advices are all appreciated.

Thank you so much.

Edited by PhoebotNiChungngay
rewording my email

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership. Has 15 years experience.

Now in this hospice work, i would be expected to know how to clean up a dead person and put them in a body bag.

Are you sure about that? Typically the mortuary does that.

sailornurse

Specializes in ER/Tele, Med-Surg, Faculty, Urgent Care. Has 39 years experience.

Things have changed. Back in the day (late 1970's/1980s) we were taught post-mortem care where we did wash the body, not sure what else we did, but I remember having to take a sheet and turn it sideways/diamond shape and wrapping the body in it. Of course that was before Aids/wearing gloves and plastic body bags did not exist then. I will have to defer to those that do this more often at bedside, but I think we now just place in bodybag, or the funeral home does.

Jensmom7, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 36 years experience.

Generally with facility patients, the facility aides clean and change the body.

When I was seeing home patients, when I did the death visit I would ask the family if they wanted to help me clean and change-some did, some didn't.

It's basically a bed bath, sometimes there's urine and stool. So, clean sheets if necessary, clean brief and fresh gown/pjs. Comb or brush the hair. If there's powder or perfume/aftershave I sprinkle a small amount around, to freshen the area.

Pull the bedcovers up to the shoulders, pillow under the head (you can put a rolled up towel under the chin, but it doesn't always keep the mouth closed). Eyes don't always just slide shut with a gentle pass of the hand like they do on tv.

It's a nice way to show respect. And, since sometimes it can take 3-4 hours for the funeral home to show up, it's a little less unnerving for family while you all wait.

The funeral home does the body bag.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 35 years experience.

Nurses do the body bag where I work, and the body is sent to the morgue. Funeral home gets it from there.

The body bag is just a big plastic bag with a zipper.

Wash the body, clean gown, etc. Toe tag with name of pt goes on toe, put body in bag,zip it up. Another tag on the outside with name, etc.

Body goes to morgue in special cart.

OCNRN63, RN

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

I never put a patient in a body bag when I worked in hospice. I just cleaned them up, made them look presentable, and made sure there were blue pads/chux under him/her in case of leakage. The people from the funeral home took care of placing the patient in the body bag.

Just think about how you would want someone you loved to be cared for after death.

Edited by OCNRN63

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

Where I work the aides take care of post-mortem care. Typical care consists of removing foley and any other equipment, providing bed bath and fresh sheets, combing hair and maybe a shave. Care is taken to position the body so that it is as peaceful and natural looking as we can make it. I like to also clean up the room and remove any trash left by the family or patient, neatly stack pillows, place all personal belongings neatly into a bag/box for the family etc. I want the room to feel welcoming and peaceful.

We then cover the bed/patient with a full-size quilt up to their shoulders and light an electric candle in the window. The latter two are as much for the staff as for the family - it's an immediate signal to anyone who works there that the patient has passed. Many aides will also place flower petals or a few buds on top the quilt as well.

A lot of post-mortem care is respecting what will help the family. Most patients are left as if they are sleeping in bed, however I've had families request that the sheet be pulled over the face as part of their spiritual practices. Some families want to preform post mortem care themselves. Sometimes it's better to not provide a bed-bath in the interest of the family wanting to remain in the room with their loved one.

Our staff does not bag the deceased, this is something mortuary staff does when they arrive. I typically offer assistance particularly with larger patients.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 35 years experience.

Sorry,I missed that this was hospice. I was talking about in hospital which is much different!

Flare, ASN, BSN

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

This post reminded me of when my grandfather died at my aunt's house. He was on hospice and died sitting in hit favorite chair. By the time we got there to wait for the funeral home to come, I suppose he was already cleaned up, but still sitting in the chair. We all sat around in the room with him telling our favorite stories about him and drinking his favorite wine. A fitting send off for a legend!

lavenderskies, BSN

Has 32 years experience.

And I don't know about everyone else but I would never refer to them as a dead body. They are deceased, a deceased patient. It's semantics I know but I would never want to accidentally offend a family/friend of the patient by having them overhear me casually refer to their loved one as a dead body.

And I don't know about everyone else but I would never refer to them as a dead body. They are deceased, a deceased patient. It's semantics I know but I would never want to accidentally offend a family/friend of the patient by having them overhear me casually refer to their loved one as a dead body.

I prefer to use "corpse." Dead body sounds too informal.

Jensmom7, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 36 years experience.

And I don't know about everyone else but I would never refer to them as a dead body. They are deceased, a deceased patient. It's semantics I know but I would never want to accidentally offend a family/friend of the patient by having them overhear me casually refer to their loved one as a dead body.

No one I know who works in Hospice would, either.

I even talk to the deceased while I'm doing post mortem care, and call them by name.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

And I don't know about everyone else but I would never refer to them as a dead body. They are deceased, a deceased patient. It's semantics I know but I would never want to accidentally offend a family/friend of the patient by having them overhear me casually refer to their loved one as a dead body.

I realized I used body when writing my above post, but I typically refer to them as "patient in room X" or by name with other staff/professionals and "your wife/father/sister etc" or by name when interacting with families and name or "the deceased" with mortuary staff.

"Body" just made sense in the context of the forum post where I don't particularly have to worry about offending someone.

poppycat, ADN, BSN

Specializes in pediatrics; PICU; NICU. Has 43 years experience.

When my dad died in hospice, the nurse & CNA cleaned him & changed the linens (this was an inpatient hospice unit). We then we're able to stay with him until the funeral home arrived. He was never sent to the morgue.

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Moved to hospice forum

WKShadowNP, DNP, APRN

Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 20 years experience.

From my time in hospice, the procedure varied. The ones at home I would do if I were the was pronouncing (or technically declaring absence of vital signs since in my state I can't legally pronounce.) Those in a facility would be cleaned by the staff. In all cases family whether present or not would have a say in preferences and requests pertaining to that part.

One memorable one occurred in a location two counties from me (we had a large large area) and I had to call for back up to drive with me at 3am. We waited at the house for a long time for the mortuary to come. Such a small room but we just all had coffee (boiled in the water on the stove) and sat around waiting. Has to be one of my more odd ones (due to the wait and method of interaction during that time.) Nice family though.

Mavrick, BSN, RN

Specializes in 15 years in ICU, 22 years in PACU. Has 30 years experience.

My experience with an ICU death always included putting their teeth back in (while you can) and slightly elevating the head of the bed (to prevent blood from collecting in an unsightly pattern on their neck).