If the death occurred at home the first thing to do is contact either the family doctor or an ambulance depending on the circumstances.
If the death was expected, you have probably already discussed with your doctor, the steps to be taken at this time. If this happens in the middle of the night, the family can usually wait and be with their loved one until morning if they wish. You should then contact your doctor to visit your home, so they can issue the necessary ‘Cause of Death Certificate’, and also call your chosen funeral director, if you have already organised one, who will arrange to bring your family member into their care.
If the death was unexpected, you should call an ambulance in the first instance. When they arrive at your home they will usually contact the police, or in some cases, your doctor. If your family doctor is contacted and issues a ‘Cause of Death Certificate’, you will then be able to call a funeral director who will arrange to bring your family member into their care.
Please note that the ‘Cause of Death Certificate’ is different to the ‘Death Certificate’ issued by your State or Territory’s office of Births, Deaths & Marriages.
If a medical practitioner cannot form an opinion about the probable cause of death, the police will take down the details and report it to the coroner, and arrange for the deceased to be transported from your home to the coroner’s mortuary.
The coroner will in turn, decide if an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death.
See the section ‘When Does A Coroner Become Involved?’ for more information on ‘reportable’ deaths.
Whilst waiting for the family doctor or ambulance, you might want to have someone make sure the body is lying flat in a restful position if possible, before the joints become stiff and cannot be moved.