Carol DuMond Stryker Guest Blogs: Will your dead body go out with the trash?

August 15, 2013
Virgil Thomas, ChangingAging.org

Recently, I spoke with 2 older adults who were active in the planning the design for a new urban Green House Home. One expressed concern that there needed to be an extra elevator for transportation of utility carts and people who had died.

I shared that in the early days of my nursing career people who had died were washed, toe tagged, and were wrapped in a plastic shroud. The body was placed on a cart with a large metal cover. All the other residents in the area were moved away from the area so they could not see the activity. Staff moved the cart down to the basement morgue using a special key that prevents the elevator door opening on other floors. When the gurney from the funeral home arrived it pulled to the back door by the dumpster. The funeral home collected the body and took him or her out the back door, where the trash goes out.

Organizations I’ve worked with that have engaged in the Eden Alternative have changed this process for the better. Other residents are encouraged to visit, pray, and be aware that one of their friends is dying. There are no additional tags, no plastic shrouds, no large metal carts, no secret transportation to the basement and out the door by the dumpster.

These precious older adults who have provided great value and wisdom to this world are respectfully honored by being escorted with the funeral director, friends, and staff through the front door. The same door they entered. My new friends felt this was the way they would want to be treated.

I pray that with each interaction, conversation, and activity we can collectively make a huge difference in the lives of older adults.

This post was submitted by Carol DuMond Stryker, Ed. D.  MS  RN.

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3 Comments. Leave new

Will your dead body go out with the trash? http://t.co/6lGOZgkbMs Culture change thanks to Eden & @drbillthomas #hpm #aging #hospice

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Barbara L. Smullen
August 16, 2013 5:49 pm

I LOVE this!!! MY EARLY TRAINIGN AS AN RN AND FIRST YEARS OF PRACTICE WERE AS YOU DESCRIBED. I DID THAT TOE TAG MANY, MANY TIMES. ONLY WHEN I STARTED WORKING IN A HOSPICE HOME DID I SEE MORE APPROPRIATE, HUMANE AND DIGNMIFIED TREATRMENT OF THE DEAD…BUT of course IN AN EDEN HOME THIS MUST BE TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM “THE WHOLE WAY”. THANKS MUCH FOR CALLING THIS TO OUR ATTENTION. Barbara Smullen, RN. Ed.D. (Elder)

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