Sadly, part of living and working in a nursing home is death. Eventually, residents move or pass away. Nurses and aides deal with this often, though it never becomes easier. Staff may become very attached to residents, losing them is often like losing your own family.
When a resident passes away, the first thing that happens is that the aide will notify a nurse who in turn notifies the supervisor on duty. The supervising RN may or may not be qualified to name the time of death. This will depend on the state or the facility. Calls are made to the resident’s physician and family. The local funeral director and/or morgue will be called as well.
A nurse and an aide or two aides will administer post-mortem care to the resident’s body. This involves giving a final bath (bed bath), cleaning of the bed clothes, and dressing. Their job is to make sure that the resident’s body is given respect by keeping them clean and preparing the body for the family.
Once the post-mortem care is finished, the resident’s room will be kept closed until the funeral director arrives to remove the body. If the resident shared a room, the room-mate will have been kept in another room or in a common area to avoid being left with the now deceased resident. As the body is removed, the rest of the halls where the trolley will be maneuvered will be kept clear – all resident doors are closed to avoid residents and their guests from viewing the funeral home’s zippered ‘body bag’. This is also done out of respect for the resident who has passed away.
The resident’s belongings may then be packed by CNAs or by the resident’s family. Some families decide to donate the belongings to other residents that are less fortunate. CNAs and housekeeping will then clean the room or the resident’s side of a shared room. It will be restocked if another new resident is moving into the nursing home and will be taking the open bed.