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Who do I call if my grandfather dies at home?

He has end stage kidney failure and is on hospice and wishes to die at home. What if I'm the only one there when he dies, do I still call 911 if I'm sure he is gone?
Status: Open    Jan 03, 2015 - 03:35 AM

End of Life

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Expert Answers

Feb 03, 2015 - 07:37 AM

This is a great question and one that often needs to be talked about. Since your grandfather is on hospice, when he dies you call hospice first. A nurse will come out and officially pronounce him. The number to call hospice should be on the front of the hospice folder that is in the home already. I would suggest going over this information with the immediate family members and anyone else who may be with your grandfather when he dies. The hospice nurse will then stay with your family to help them at this time. The nurse or family will then call the funeral home when everyone has had as much time as they need. As much as we feel we are prepared for our loved one to die, we are never 100% ready to let them go. I suggest to not rush this last period. Make sure that everyone who needs to be there is there and take as much time as you need before calling the funeral home. This will help start a healthy grieving process. Thank you for your question and I wish the best for you and your family,



Feb 01, 2015 - 03:02 PM

I'm not sure I know the "correct" answer but my stepfather just died at home and we called 911. The police officer asked several questions about his health and how he was found. Basically she was trying to make it very clear to the medical examiner's office that he didn't die under questionable circumstances. The police contacted the ME with their report (they gave us the report number) saying he died of natural causes, then the ME gave the funeral home approval to work with us on arrangements. One would suppose that if anything looked shady the police wouldn't want you moving forward with arrangements (i.e. embalming) if they needed to investigate further. Hope this helps.

Feb 01, 2015 - 03:13 PM

Call the Hospice that he under care with. They may have protocol to take care of everything. You might want to contact the CNA, Nurse or Social Worker that is assigned to him. There may also be a Chaplain that is assigned to him you. Anyone of these people can answer your question.

Feb 01, 2015 - 03:14 PM

It's a good question, and I was in the situation with my Mom. Here is what I did:

I called the hospice, and they said they would send someone over. Then I called 911 and told them the truth--that my mother was in home hospice care and she had passed--at least I think so. I told them I was calling so that a professional, someone trained to determine end of life, could help me understand what was happening.

The dispatcher asked if I thought she was breathing, I told them no. She asked if my mother had a DNR (Do not resuscitate) order. (If your grandfather is in hospice care, he will too.) She asked me to place it right on the bed next to Mom. The paramedics arrived--they were very sweet. They used equipment to determine she had indeed passed, and they stayed with me until hospice arrived.

The hospice worker recognized the paramedics when she arrived. I suspect this scenario probably played out this way many times.

I was very scared that I might be alone when my mom passed, but as it turns out, I am so happy that I got to be there with her, and that she wasn't alone.

Be at peace. It will all be OK.

Feb 01, 2015 - 04:52 PM

We asked this same question of the funeral home director. You still call 911, but tell them that it's not an emergency and that he has passed. Tell them there is no need for an ambulance. They will send an officer who will call the coroner. A time of death needs to be stated by him.

Feb 01, 2015 - 05:46 PM

If the patient is on hospice and passes away at home call Hospice first before anyone. They will come to the house and pronounce them. If the arrangements are known [and they will be in Hospice] your Hospice nurse may call the funeral director for transportation to the funeral home. I'm an old Hospice nurse and I always stayed until that task was over [the pt. removed] and assisted as needed. The family sure appreciates the support and assistance for them as well. There will have to be an orange card in the home which is a discription of the pt., primary MD, Name etc and DNR. It's usually kept on the refrig door [that's where the paramedics look] OR on the pt's. headboard. If that is not in place they will do CPR. So don't call 911. Hope this helps. Bless you for honoring their wishes and keeping them home on Hospice.


Feb 01, 2015 - 06:13 PM

Hi, If your hospice nurse is not with you at the time of his passing your first call should be to them. He or she will be able to help you. Hospice is a great support group as well as nursing. They know what to do. I am surprised they haven't discussed this with you already. Let them help you prepare. They are truely there to lean on during this most difficult time.

Feb 01, 2015 - 06:16 PM

You call hospice and they will come out - if they are not there already - and will fill out all the necessary paperwork and prepare your grandfather to leave his home for the funeral home. You will want to have pre-arranged a funeral home and cremation, if that is his wishes. Hospice will give you all the time you need to be with your grandfather, then they will call the funeral home for you. They stay until your grandfather leaves his home for the funeral home. Do ask your questions to hospice now and make a plan with them.

Hospice is a wonderful concept and they became like family when first my mother and then my father chose to join hospice and die at home.

Feb 01, 2015 - 06:59 PM

Your hospice should provide you with needed information, including the proper phone calls to make, etc. They should be able to walk you through it. Typically there's a hospice nurse assigned who should be contacted, but their offices should be taking calls 24/7 so you can get directions from someone. I was alone with mom when she died and hospice was extremely helpful. It's their job to follow up following a death; they should send someone out upon your reporting to them and they'll help with details. If you have a funeral home picked out, you'll want to contact them also.

Source: Donna

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