6.7 Postmortem Care

The nurse will determine when an individual has died and follow agency policies. If loved ones are present, allow them to stay with the person’s body as long as needed for them to say goodbye. If they express any religious or cultural preferences, they should be accommodated as much as possible. For example, individuals from some cultures prefer to cleanse their loved one’s body after death. When sufficient time has been granted, the nursing assistant will prepare the body for transport.

When postmortem care is provided, it is appropriate to ask the family to leave the room. You will provide a bed bath to the resident and then position them in correct alignment. A new gown should be placed on the resident. Because urine or feces is often expelled when the resident is moved for transport, a clean incontinence brief should be provided after the bath is completed. The resident’s eyelids and mouth should be gently closed if they are still open. A rolled towel can be placed under the chin to stabilize the jaw. Cover the resident to the neck with clean linens, leaving the face and head uncovered. Check facility policy for applying an identification bracelet.

The postmortem care process can be very difficult for a new nursing assistant or whenever it is completed the first few times. Be sure to ask for assistance from a more experienced nursing assistant or the nurse or consider completing the postmortem cares with another staff member to ease the difficulty of the experience.


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