Chief Nursing Officer launches Regional Guidance on Care After Death

Date published: 12 May 2017

Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Charlotte McArdle, today officially launched new guidelines for nurses on care after death.

CNO care of the deceased guidance

‘Care of the Deceased Patient and their Family: A Guideline for Nursing Practice in Northern Ireland’, provides guidance to nurses and midwives working in any setting on how to achieve the delivery of safe, sensitive, effective and person-centred nursing care to a deceased person and their family, friends and carers.

Speaking during Dying Matters Week, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, Professor Charlotte Mc Ardle said: “I am delighted to launch a regional document to promote excellence in the nursing care of the deceased patient and their families.


“When a patient dies, nurses and midwives lead in the coordination of care after death and are uniquely placed to ensure that these final acts of care for the deceased person and their loved ones uphold standards of good nursing practice.  Undertaking this role sensitively and respectfully has the potential to help people with this difficult journey through the bereavement process.

“This includes their liaison with colleagues from other professions and services to coordinate any health and safety, legal, administrative, spiritual and cultural requirements arising before, at the time of and immediately after death.”

Speaking on International Nurses Day at a ‘Celebration of Nursing Event’ in Belfast, Professor McArdle also praised the commitment and dedication of nurses and midwives: “On International Nurses Day 2017 I urge all of us to reflect on the history of our great profession, continue to role model strong nursing values of caring for those in need and grasp the opportunities that are presented to us to lead transformational change to improve the outcomes for the populations we serve.

“I want to say a very big thank you to all nurses who go the extra mile, give of themselves not just professionally but personally, often put their professional commitments before family and continue to provide high quality care even in challenging and difficult circumstances. I am proud of our profession, have always been proud to be a nurse and proud of the work you all do every day.” 

Notes to editors: 

  1. Friday 12 May 2017 is International Nurses Day and is celebrated around the world on the anniversary of Florence Nightingales birth.
  2. Dying Matters Awareness Week takes place from 8-14 May 2017. It is organised by the Dying Matters Coalition to encourage people to talk openly about dying, death and bereavement.
  3. The document ‘Care of the deceased patient and their family: A Guideline for Nursing Practice in Northern Ireland’ is available from the HSC Bereavement Network website at:
  4. This guidance was developed by the HSC Bereavement Network in consultation with nurses and care assistants across Northern Ireland and reflects not only the care that is directed by ‘last offices’ procedures, but also outlines the wider responsibilities that nurses have towards patients and bereaved families.
  5. The guideline also contains information about the new ‘Regional Mortality and Morbidity Review System’.
  6. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 90 520575 or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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