First Offices prepartion prior to Embalming
23rd September, 2022

Completion of Preparation (without embalming)

Main Image: La Calavera College

Best practises for the preparation of our deceased, also known as First Offices

Ensure that you are wearing suitable PPE (personal protective equipment) and that you are in a suitable location to undertake the task. 

To begin, confirm the identity of the deceased person and any instructions given by the client pertaining to their care.

Remove the disposable shroud, sanitary wear/absorbent pad from the deceased person and place these into clinical waste. Utilise a modesty cloth to maintain the deceased persons dignity throughout the stages of actively caring for their body. 

Disinfect/wash the body, remembering to care for the back of the body as well as the front. During this process you can gently manipulate the limbs/joints to alleviate rigor mortis – it is important to do this within the natural limits of the body, for example, if the fingers are clearly arthritic do not attempt to force them to open out or straighten.

If the deceased person has facial hair, check the preparation request to ensure you follow the client wishes. If they wish for facial hair to be removed ensure suitable shaving foam/gel and a new razor is used. Take care and shave in the direction of hair growth to prevent razor burn.

The nasal and oral orifices will require special attention. Using a pair of blunt-nosed forceps, soak cotton wool in an anti-fungal disinfectant and swab out the nasal cavity, repeat until the swabs are clean.

Using a pair of blunt forceps and an aneurysm hook, soak cotton wool in disinfectant and swab the inside of the mouth and back of the throat. It is important to swab all surface areas during this process. Repeat as necessary until the soaked wool swabs are returning clean. If there is an excess of fluid in the back of the throat or oral cavity a throat aspirator can be utilised before the cleaning with cotton wool commences.

Once the nasal and oral cavities are clean, a suitable packing material can be introduced into the nasal cavity (ensuring this is not visible from the nostrils) and throat (ensuring this not visible in the mouth). If the deceased person has dentures, check that they are clean and disinfected before placing them into the mouth.

The mouth can now be closed by utilising a septal suture, sub-mandibular suture or needle injector. Non-invasive options such as dental ties or molar bonding can be employed as per permissions.

Take care cleaning the eyes, utilise cotton wool with anti-fungal disinfectant and use an aneurysm hook to gently lift the eyelids. Clean remnants of massage cream and rheum/detritis (sleep) from the eye and eyelashes. Once clean gently place an eye-cap into the eye and apply a thin layer of anti-dehydrating stay cream across the surface and in the inner canthus of the eye, then close the eyelid. Take care not to press the eyelid down – bring the lower lid up (1/3) to meet the upper eyelid (2/3) to allow for a more natural eye closure.

Take care to wash the hair which can then be brushed, dried, and styled as per the client wishes.

Take care to clean fingernails, there may be a client request to shape or apply nail-varnish.

Finally, apply a thin layer of massage cream to the face and blend into the skin. If there are instructions from the client for application of cosmetics this can now be undertaken.

The Eternal Debate

Presented by two qualified and practicing embalmers, Rachel Carline & Andy Floyd, The Eternal Debate Podcast covers the world of Embalming and Mortuary Science as well as other aspects of the funeral profession.
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