Traditional or forward thinking funeral practices? Paul Allcock considers SAIF’s stance.

May 16, 2018   //   No Comments

Earlier this month there was an open letter to SAIF from Cara Mair posted on the Good Funeral Guide website which raised a number of questions regarding Funeral Plans and the training of Funeral Directors and which has created great debate.  My blog this month consists of extracts from a letter which I sent to Cara in response to her comments together with a few additional subsequent thoughts.  I feel it is important to explain a couple of factors for the sake of clarity.

Firstly, the letter written by Cara, was directed specifically to SAIF. The initial comments however, were regarding training. SAIF as an organisation do not conduct any training, but approves the training carried out by the Independent Funeral Directors College, who have responded directly themselves.

Secondly, there was mention of disgruntlement at the SAIF AGM over the focus being on Pre-Paid Funeral Plan selling. The only mention of this within the AGM was during the reports by SAIF Charter and Golden Charter. Neither of whom are organisations which SAIF has any control over. Golden Charter being the Funeral Planning Company and SAIF Charter being the owners of Golden Charter. SAIF Charter is not owned by SAIF! I know this can be confusing, particularly as the majority of SAIF members are also SAIF Charter members, but not all! I myself am neither a SAIF Charter member nor a seller of Golden Charter Funeral Plans, yet I was recently SAIF President and am still PR Chairman and Government Liaison for SAIF. I hope this shows that SAIF is not a dictator to its members and that true independence is exactly what each member of SAIF has. There are many things which are recommended by SAIF which are taken up by their members, but likewise there are many that are not. It is for individuals to choose what are the best actions for their own company. True independence!

Much of the rest of the letter appears to be assumptions based on personal past bad experiences. I am always saddened to hear that anyone has been witness to poor practice and I believe that, through the strict quality inspections carried out every second year to every SAIF member, any poor practice is continually being eradicated. There are now many SAIF member funeral directors who are extremely forward thinking. Anyone would be very mistaken to think that any single company is the only one offering the many and varied options available to families in their time of need. All of our members are encouraged to be open to any requests from their clients and to ensure that the very best care and attention to detail is adhered to.

Indeed when Quaker Social Action initiated the plea for all funeral directors to have their prices clearly shown on their websites, it was SAIF who strongly encouraged our members to do exactly that. And there were more SAIF members who signed up to do so than there were from any other organisation.

There are obviously still very traditional funeral directors who may offer limited options. But who has the right to say that they are wrong to do so? Every client that walks through a funeral directors door has different needs, their own ideas as to what is appropriate and they have the right to choose whichever funeral director they feel offers the most appropriate service for them. Therefore, perhaps we should ask the question of ourselves, are we influencing too much how a death and a funeral should be handled? Empowering individuals to fulfil their personal wishes should always be encouraged. However, I fear that there may be some funeral directors who make assumptions about what is appropriate for other people and what is not.

Listening is the greatest skill a funeral director can have.

Bearing this in mind, SAIF representing over 870 funeral directors across the UK, has to respect that there are many differing practices. There are so many regional variations. There are differences between the procedures within a large company with many branches and those small companies carrying out just a handful of funerals each year. It is SAIF’s mission to ensure that they are all supported and able to offer the very best in care and service to each and every client.

Sometimes I fear that there is no appreciation of just how many excellent, caring and wonderful people there are, working very hard to ensure that any bereaved individual receives the best care possible both for them and their loved ones.

And SAIF empowers them to be able to do just that.